FROM THE LIBRARY OF REV. LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, D. D, BEQUEATHED BY HIM TO THE LIBRARY OF PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY POEMS BY JOHN MOULTRIE. Just Published, foolscap Svo. price 7s. THE DREAM OF LIFE, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH, and Other Poems. Also recently Published, uniform with the above, Second Edition, price Is. A VOLUME OF POEMS, containing MY BROTHER'S GRAVE, ETC. " A small volume of such decided excellence, as to give the author at once a distinguished station amongst the younger poets of the day."— Quarterly Review, No. 117. V J nW of PWJq^ 1933 -L8r^ £ THE DREAM OF LIFE LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH AND OTHER POEMS BY JOHN MOULTRIE LONDON WILLIAM PICKERING 1843 Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2013 http://archive.org/details/dreamchuOOmoul ADVERTISEMENT. The first and longest Poem in the present Volume was written at intervals in the course of the two last summers. The others are, for the most part, of an earlier date ; — many of them, indeed, having been composed pre- viously to the publication of my former volume. In the series which (perhaps too ambitiously) I have entitled ' Lays of the English Church/ it was my original design to produce, if I could, a succession of Poems, founded upon the Epistles and Gospels of our Anglican Liturgy, which might supply what seems to me a desideratum in our popular literature ; — a volume which might be, in some degree, to general and unlearned readers what ' The Christian Year' and other works of that fine school are to persons of cultivated and imagi- native minds. The plan was not long very rigorously adhered to, and the attempt ulti- mately abandoned, as (by me, at least,) im- practicable. The portion now published, and extending from the first Sunday in Advent to IV ADVERTISEMENT. Ash Wednesday, contains all the pieces which were written, with the exception of one, which seemed disproportionately long, and otherwise out of keeping with the remainder of the series. In the Poem of * The Dream of Life/ I have introduced (what from the nature of the sub- ject I could scarcely avoid) various sketches of real character, the originals of some of which are still living, and others will be locally (a few, perhaps, generally) recognised. With regard to these, it has been invariably my object and endeavour to communicate to the mind of my reader the impression of my own pleasant and kindly and, very often, affec- tionate recollections. I have done my best (such as that is) to make my portraits worthy of their originals. If in any instance, failing to effect this, I "shall be found to have produced a less agreeable likeness than was intended, I shall much regret — what I cannot plead as an excuse — the clumsiness of the artist. Rectory, Rugby. 1. M. Easter Mondav, 1843. CONTENTS. THE DREAM OF LIFE. Book I. Childhood 1 II. Boyhood :.t... 37 III. Youth '..':.... 73 IV. Manhood 105 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. First Sunday in Advent. From the Epistle 143 From the Gospel 145 Second Sunday in Advent. From the Epistle 146 From the Gospel 148 Third Sundav in Advent. From the Epistle 148 From the Gospel 150 Fourth Sunday in Advent. From the Epistle 152 From the Gospel 153 Christmas Day. From the Epistle 155 From the Gospel 157 St. Stephen's Day. From the Epistle 159 From the Gospel 161 St. John the Evangelist's Day. From the Epistle 164 From the Gospel 167 VI CO NT! NTS. Page The Innocents' Da v. From the Epistle 170 From the Gospel 177 The Sunday after Christmas. From the Epistle 179 From the Gospel 181 The Circumcision of Christ. From the Epistle 185 From the Gospel 188 The Epiphany. From the Epistle 190 From the Gospel 193 First Sunday after the Epiphany. From the Epistle 198 From the Gospel 203 Second Sunday after the Epiphany. From the Epistle 215 From the Gospel 217 Third Sunday after the Epiphany. From the Epistle 220 From the Gospel 221 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. From the Epistle 223 From the Gospel 224 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany. From the Epistle 228 From the Gospel 231 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany. From the Epistle 231 From the Gospel 233 Septuagesima Sunday. From the Epistle 237 From the Gospel 242 Sexagesima Sunday. From the Epistle 246 From the Gospel 247 CONTENTS. Vll Quinquagesima Sunday. From the Gospel 249 Ash Wednesday. From the Epistle 252 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAIN'S. Canto 1 257 II 275 OCCASIONAL POEMS. Stanzas. Written in the Isle of Arran 293 Our Wedding-Day! 296 Inscription for a Bust of the late Winthrop Mackworth Praed 299 Hymn for the opening of a Church Organ 299 Sonnet I. New Year's Day 300 II 301 III 302 IV. Written in the Highlands 302 V. Loch Ranza 303 VI. To my infant Daughter 304 VII. To my youngest Child 304 VIII 305 IX ! 306 X. To the Authoress of" I watch'd the Heavens" 306 Stanzas. To the same 307 Lament for the Doon 310 LAYS OF THE PARISH. I. Euthanasia 319 II. The Son oof the Kettle 342 CORRIGENDA. Page 82, line 3 from bottom, for " sturdy" read " spirit's." 103, line 5 from bottom, for " bright-eyed" read " beau teous." 122, line 7, for " serious " read " sportive." 138, line 9 from bottom, for " well " read " much." 138, line 6 from bottom, for " years" read " days." 183, line 14, for " virgin's" read " virgin." 281, line 11, for " which" read " whom." 282, line 6, for " worthier" read " daintier." THE DREAM OF LIFE. BOOK I. CHILDHOOD. INSCRIBED TO MY PARENTS. Heaven lies about us in our infancy." WORDSWORTH. 2 B THE DREAM OF LIFE, BOOK I. CHILDHOOD. Once more among- my earliest haunts ! — once more A solitary man, from home delights Familiar, and the sounds of childish mirth, And sweet endearments of connubial love, Secluded for awhile ; — beneath the roof Which shelter'd me in childhood, and which still Shelters my parents' age, for some few days. A welcome guest, I sojourn. Years long past, — The pleasant spring, and seed-time of my life. — Revisit my mind's eye, with all their train Of youthful thoughts and feelings, by these scenes Mysteriously revived. Nor meets me here One outward token from that newer world Of cares and duties, fears and hopes and aims, Sorrows and joys, in which I live and move. A husband and a parent. Far away, On the green banks of her beloved Doon. My wife imbues our children's opening minds V\ ith love of Caledonia's hills and glens; Meanwhile inhaling, near her native coast, From the bold mountains, and the breezv sea. 4 THE DREAM OF LIFE. New health and vigour, — by her childhood's friends. As I by mine, surrounded. So complete Is thus my separation from all cares Domestic and parental, that almost, Methinks, by strong imagination led, I might forget the two and twenty years Of life, long since mature, which time hath stolen, Since I, as boyhood melted into youth, Bade sad farewell to Eton's long loved shades, And these fair scenes together; — might forget What all those years have made me, — what rich gifts Their course hath brought, — what cares those gifts produce, — And be once more the dreaming, brain-sick boy That then I was. And what if I give scope To memory's pensive rovings ? — What if now. In this calm interim between the calls Of active duty and of worldly care, I bid my heart keep holiday, — forget The Present and the Future in the Past, — Live o'er again my long departed years In tranquil meditation, — and perchance, Comparing what I was with what I am, Amidst that multitudinous array Of thoughts and feelings which have come and gone, Discern, in twilight gaze, the embryo state Of what is now my being ?— Haply thus My time may not be lost ; — Not for myself, Nor for some gentle spirits, who may find, Nor scorn to learn, a lesson from my lay, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 3 Such as all records of Man's life mmht teach. o Dim and mysterious to the dreamer's eye, Retracing the first gleams of consciousness, Is Infancy and Childhood's fairy-land. Scarce through the glory, as of other worlds, Enveloping its outline, is discern'd, At intervals distinctly, here and there, A streak of clear reality, — some fact, Or feeling, or sensation, — some event To Childhood's eyes momentous, and thenceforth Indelibly inscribed on Memory's page, Only with life to be expunged. Even here, Surrounded, as I am, by objects fraught With old associations, and none else — Wandering, at will, through old familiar rooms, And gazing on old hills, and fields, and lanes, And human forms, the first I ever knew, And faces which I loved ere I could speak — Even here, my first remembrances of life Seem dim and distant. Scarce at intervals, Events and epochs, few and far between, Stand forth in clear relief; — a colour'd frock, — A picture-book replete with marvels strange To young imagination ; — a quaint tale Told by my grandam ; — my first cloth pelisse, With rows of glittering buttons all ablaze, The envy of my infantine compeers ; And mix'd with these, at times, a tender gleam Of somewhat (whether fantasy or love I know not,) — a strange instinct lighting up THE DREAM OF LIFE. My heart beneath the glance of woman's eyes ; — A sense of beauty and mysterious power, By beauty wielded, stirring* to its depths The soul of man, while he is yet a child. So fares the world within ; — around me crowd Familiar objects ; — our old nursery stands Unalter'd, save that now it bears no trace Of infantine or childish tenantry ; — Cradle, or crib, or tiny chair, or store Of scatter'd toys, or window fenced with bars, Or fire-place, guarded close from rash approach, By lofty fender. Time's relentless march Hath made strange havoc with the furniture Once consecrate to childhood's mimic sports. The chairs which, yoked and harness'd, served as steeds To whirl us, on imaginary cars, In pomp and pride of glorious coachmanship, At length have disappear'd through slow decay ; Their wood- work fractured, and theirhorsehair seats Worn bare by long attrition. Many a year, — Yea, far into my manhood's lusty prime, They stood where they were wont, and seem'd to bear A charmed life. In sooth, I could have named Each individual courser, — told the marks Which once distinguish'd, to our childish thought, The chestnut from the grey, the bay from brown ; — Which to each several brother was assign'd, His own especial property; — which work'd As wheeler, — which as leader. All are gone, — THE DREAM OF LIFE. The steeds, and they who drove them. Many a change, Within doors and without, hath changed the face Of the old dwelling-, e'en within the span Of my remembrance. Casements, which sufficed The vicars of a less luxurious age, First from the old stone frontage disappear'd, Supplanted by broad panes. — A few years pass'd, Riches increased, and lo ! a pile arose Of bright red brick, with slate cerulean roof'd, Encroaching on the garden, and but ill Consorting with the grey, time-mellow'd stone, To which 'twas wedded. On the study's site, Somewhat extended, straightway there appear'd A gay and gilded drawing-room, o'er which, Piled, story above story, tier on tier, New bed-rooms tower'd, in ample space and height Mocking the old and humble vicarage. With pride we mark'd the building, as it grew, (I and my brothers) deeming that at last Our mansion should eclipse the squire's itself, And we be counted greater than the squire. Yet when the work was finish'd, and we dwelt Like nobles, as we deem'd, — methinks, we found Small compensation in our ceiled state, For old associations swept away With our abolish'd play-room— for the fall Of shrubbery laurels, underneath whose thick And sun-proof foliage we were wont to frame Our mimic houses, with inventive skill THE DREAM OF LIFE. Arranging and imagining- ; — nor lack'd To those umbrageous mansions aught that taste Or ingenuity of modish art Might fashion, or caprice of luxury Deem needful for convenience. Banquet-halls Were there, with banquets spread, from time to time, Of sugar'd cakes and gingerbread, served up On fragments of crack'd china; Drawing-rooms Well furnish 'd, and adorn'd with stately couch, And ottoman and sofa, soft repose Inviting and prolonging ; closets cramm'd With household stores ; kitchen and scullery range, With culinary implements complete ; And overhead, among the thickleaved boughs, Our verdant dormitories. Oh ! how well Wrought then imagination, by strange art, Enduing her creations with what seem'd Most absolute reality. Our sports To us were scarcely sports, but still appear 'd Our gravest occupations. — In our world, (That fairy world created by ourselves), We lived and had our being. All day long, (Our tasks once ended) how we toil'd and toil'd At that fantastic architecture ! — how, Absorb'd, and reckless of all outward things, We shaped and moulded our whole dream of life To match our habitation ! Our desires Roam'd not beyond that garden's narrow bounds. There was our universe. — Reluctantly We left its pastimes for a daily walk THE DREAM OV LIFE. 9 Through the green fields and pleasant shelter'd lanes Of this delicious region ; for, in us, The sense of beauty, with majestic forms And glorious hues investing hill and wood, As yet was undevelop'd, and it seem'd Dire interruption of important toil And business which allow'd of no delay, To force us from our fair ideal realm E'en to the pleasures of reality. A nd yet, from time to time, strange pleasures came ; Some by succession of the seasons brought, Or revolution of the calendar ; Some at uncertain epochs, racier still Because unlook'd-for. First, the spring produced Its primrose tufts and constellated stalks Of cowslip, which, with eager chase, we sought, And strung together into fragrant balls ; Or (proud of such unwonted usefulness) Heap'd for the flowery vintage. Summer shone (Summer seem'd then all sunshine, and as yet Asthma was not) on fields of new-mown grass, And us among the haymakers. Ah me ! The raptures of that season ! — with what pride (Our tiny rakes and pitchforks in our hands) We follow'd, with the rest, the mower's track, And spread the levell'd crop beneath the sun ! At noon, with what keen appetite we shared The rustic luncheon, — feasted to the full, Beside some hedge, on piles of bread and cheese, And from its wooden flagon quaff 'd the beer, 10 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Listening meanwhile to tale and homely jest, Pass'd round by jovial peasants. Then, at eve, ^ hen the day's toil was ended, home we rode In the returning waggon, — joy of joys ! The world hath now none such. With autumn came The village wake, and (if remembrance serves) The fair, with stalls of tempting gingerbread, And glittering toys, and shows majestical ; While, (for 'twas then the stirring time of war) Recruiting sergeants gaily to and fro Paraded, to the sound of drum and fife, Their colours and cockades. To us they seem'd Almost like gods of war, and oft our hearts Beat high, to think how blest a fate it were To fight old England's enemies, and die Victorious on some well-won battle-field. Twas then that on the Nation's startled ear Burst the glad news of naval victory, Sadden'd by Nelson's death. Those news awoke, Methinks, in me, my first ideal sense Of warlike triumph, of heroic deeds, And glory by a nation lost or won. Then first I felt that 'twas a noble lot To be a Briton ; — then, with earnest heart, Rejoiced at England's joy, and wept her griefs, A patriot five years old. Some nameless fears Had stirr'd my soul already, when I heard (What then was widely bruited in men's mouths) Of near invasion, of impending strife, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 11 And danger and defeat. The might of France Was, to my heart, a dark, mysterious thought, More hateful from the vagueness of alarm With which 'twas blended, and my midnight dreams Would oft reverberate Napoleon's name, Dreadful as Dsemogorgon's. Oft, in sleep, I heard the thrilling cry, " The French are come," And straightway through the street, in long array, With shout of hostile triumph, with deep roll Of drum, and peal of trump, and clang of arms, Battalion on battalion, host on host, Defiled the invading myriads ; — Britain's fight, Men said, was fought and lost, and she was now In bondage to her foes. Ere long the scene Grew darker ; in my father's house appear'd Strange faces, — heralds by the victors sent To cite my parents to the judgment seat, And haply to the scaffold. In that fear Grim and perplex'd, the bonds of sleep were burst, And I, in agony of tears, awoke ! Such terrors, waking or asleep, were mine, Till news of victory came : — oh, then at once My breast was lighten'd. Ne'er shall I forget The fervour, the wild frenzy of delight, Which, when the news first reach'd our little town, Thrill'd through its English heart. That week had seen A daughter born into my Father's house ; And, I remember, in my Mother's room We stood, and from the silent window gazed 12 THE DREAM OF LITE. On bonfires blazing in the street, and crowds Of villagers and peasants round the flame Promiscuously group'd. — The ruddy light Flash'd fitfully on faces bright with joy, And forms in active motion. To the sky Rockets, from time to time, in fiery track Soar'd, blazed, and, bursting, scatter'd, high in air, Bright showers of stars ; while ever and anon, From the near steeple, our six bells rang out Their loud and lusty changes, — now in notes Harmoniously attuned to concord sweet With the deep stream of joy in every heart, — Now mimicking, with simultaneous clang, The cannons' deafening roar. At intervals, From every quarter, musket-shots were heard, Follow'd by shout, and cheer, and loud huzzah ! From congregated throats. The nation's voice, Even among us, arose from Earth to Heaven In chorus of exultant jubilee, Yet with religious fervour not unmix'd, Nor thankless to the God of victories For triumph thus bestow'd. — Men's warlike pride, By recollection of their hero's death, Was soften'd and subdued. It was a night Greatly to be remember'd. With our dreams, When we, with hearts untired, reluctantly Had gone to rest, the tumult of the street Still mingled, and awoke a phantom world Of imagery in the mysterious depths Of Childhood's spirit, shedding wondrous gleams THE DREAM OF LIFE. 13 Of glory on the visions of the night. Since then have five and thirty years flown by, And boyhood, youth, and early manhood pass'd, With all their changes ; yet even now a peal Of merry village bells recalls to mind The raptures of that night, and conjures up The ghosts of thoughts and feelings, in my heart Long buried ; — thus with joys of rustic life — A birth, a wedding, or a festival, Associating the glories of the Past. I was not born ambitious ; — never long'd For honour to be won by warlike deeds, Nor wish'd mj^self a hero ; — else, methinks, The atmosphere of war, in childhood breathed, Had fed such fancies bravely, and perchance Made me unlike, in all things, what I am. For scarce a village in old England, then, But dared heroic enterprize. The threat Of near invasion had awoke all hearts To simultaneous valour. Peasants beat Their pruninghooks and ploughshares into swords ; And pale-faced artisans forsook the loom And shuttle, to encumber their spare limbs With the grim garb of war. The smith exchanged His hammer for a halberd. Tailors, fired With martial ardour, from the shop-board leap'd, And let their needles rust, to grasp the spear With fingers which of late the thimble wore. Shortwinded, pursy men forgot their fat And scantiness of breath, in tight-drawn belt 14 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Bracing their bulk abdominal, to serve As lusty volunteers in some new corps Raised for the nonce. We too, albeit the least Among Britannia's thousands, furnish'd forth Our sixty musqueteers — a gallant band In uniform complete ; — to me they seem'd A host invincible, prepared to hurl Napoleon from his throne. Sublime they shone In scarlet regimentals faced with green ; Their military caps by towering plumes Surmounted, while their burnish'd firelocks flash'd, Like lightning, in the sun, with bayonets fix'd, Bristling in bright array. The squire himself. Forsaking for awhile his mimick war With birds and beasts, and buckling on his arms, Was proud to be their captain. Next in rank, Nor less in arms illustrious — passing then Life's vigorous prime, and by his portly shape And peaceful air, less fitted, as it seem'd, For martial prowess than luxurious ease, Our neighbour, the attorney, took the field. Him, not unfit at social boards to shine, — A man of easy humour and frank mirth, — Sluggish withal, and simple as a child In this world's ways, had fortune's wild caprice First doom'd to be a lawyer, and next thrust Into the full accoutrements of war And regimental lace. Alike unfit Was he for scarlet, and for chancery suit ; Alike unskill'd in pleadings and in war ; THE DREAM OF LIFE. 15 In deeds of arms and deeds of law alike Ill-graced and awkward ; for his nature, pure And harmless as the dove's, could never learn The serpent's wisdom ; — gentle as the lamb, He lack'd the lion's valour. — He was form'd For upright acts of honest friendliness, For charity and bland good neighbourhood, Not for the tumult of the battle-field, Or trickery of the law-court. Mild, sedate, His usual air; — few were the words he spoke, And slow his utterance; but when friend met friend Around his hospitable board, and wine, After the fashion of those ruder days, In circling brimmers flow'd, — oh, who was then His match for fun and frolic ? Then his eye (Dull and professionally grave before) Twinkled and gleam'd with humour;— then (all care For formal rules of etiquette cast off) His mirth ran riot in wild, boylike freaks Of unrestrain'd extravagance. But now, Silent and grave, beside his corps he march'd; And if, — when cups were sparkling on the board Of absent friends, while he, on full parade, Did active service, — nature would at times Grow weary of manoeuvres manifold, Marchings and counter-marchings, mimick-fights, Retreats and charges, ambuscades, assaults, Volleys of awkward musketry, and balls Shot wide of targets, — he, with noble pride Of self-control, repress'd all outward signs 16 THE DREAM OF LIEE. And tokens of impatience, — proud to be In Albion's cause a martyr. Him of late I mark'd, an aged man, well-nigh fourscore, Still, in the parish church, his wonted seat Maintaining, and himself but little changed In all these years from that which he appear'd When first I knew him ; — undiminish'd still His lusty bulk, — un wrinkled still his brow, — Unspectacled his nose ; — yet Death's grim shades Must soon be closing round him, and the friends, — The boon companions of his earlier days, — His comrades in the field and at the feast, — Have, one by one, departed from his side, And dropp'd into the grave. His housekeeper (For never hath he worn connubial yoke), Large as himself, and rosy, and rotund, The despot of his house, hath gone the way Appointed for all flesh ; — his well-fed steed Hath vacated the true prebendal stall In which he lived to eat, asthmatic long And martyr to repletion ; — his lank pair Of greyhounds (sole lank things in all that house) Sleep, with their old companion, side by side, — Their last course run and ended. Be their lord's Decease, when it shall come, as calm as theirs, But not, like theirs, uncheer'd by Christian hope Of immortality and endless bliss. With him there march'd, as ensign of the corps, A tall, spare man, his kinsman, some ten years His senior, whose high forehead, silver'd o'er, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 1? At fifty-five, with eighty winters' snow, Assumed, beneath his feather'd, fierce cock'd hat, A veteran aspect ; — yet a peaceful man Was he, and had, in Gloucester's busy vales, Been bred a manufacturer. The mill, Embosom'd yonder between wooded banks, Was built, and many years possess'd by him ; Till, with an ample store of this world's wealth, He and his wife, with none to be their heirs, (For theirs had ever been a childless home) Retired to spend their calm decline of life In affluent ease and leisure. Twenty years Were they our next-door neighbours. As a child, I well remember, when the parsonage On rare occasions oped its festal doors To guests invited, how, amidst the throng, His was the gravest face, the stateliest step, The hoariest head ; with what a solemn grace He at quadrille or whist would take his seat, Confronted with some bulky dowager, Or spinster of threescore. The dark brown coat. White waistcoat, breeches of demurest drab, And hose of spotless cotton, (for as yet Silk was, with us, a luxury only known To clergymen and squires,) the polish'd shoes Of rustic make, and thicker than need was, Still dwell in my remembrance. On his arm Hung his good-humour'd partner, all bedight In finery, such as fifty years before Had shone in metropolitan saloons. 2 C IB THE DREAM OF LIFE. Herself ungraced by the accomplishments Of modish education, and, in truth, What some call vulgar, but, beyond her peers. From all vulgarity of soul exempt ; — Kind-hearted, full of charity, unchiil'd By niggard thrift, — for all the neighbouring poor Prompt ever both to spend and to be spent ; Alike unfit to hear and to repeat The scandal of the tea-table. They lived (She and her mate) a blameless, peaceful life, Through fifty years of wedlock, till at last Disease, in cancerous shape, assail'd the wife, Marring her features, and extending" wide Its fibres through her flesh. — For some few years She pined and wasted, with assiduous care Still tended by her husband, whose whole life Was so entwined with hers, that, when she died. The old man's heart seem'd broken. — From that hour He never cross'd the threshold of his door, Save when he went to church, — but sat and sat Beside his lonely hearth from morn to night ; Now poring o'er his Bible, — now absorb'd In dreamy thought, — his eyes suffused with tears, — His heart with her whom he had lost, — in Heaven. Nor sought he other company ; though oft, When friends or neighbours came to visit him, He would converse in no uncheerful tone, Nor close his heart to sympathy with those Who sympathized with him. Some habits, form'd Till: DREAM OF LIFE. 19 In happier days, — some customs, shared with her, He still retain'd ; — still every Sunday eve (The service done) he with his kinsman dined, Whose jovial humour, soften'd now by years, Was, in his presence, temper'd to a grave And reverential sadness : — each with each Held soothing fellowship, till life's frail thread At last, in one, gave way. His race is run ; His story told; — he rests with her he loved. A melancholy joy, in truth, it is, When half a life has fled, to see once more Places long loved ; — to mark how Nature's face Remains unchanged, — how little Art has wrought Of transformation in insensate things, While human forms familiar — men who lived, Thought, felt, rejoiced, and sorrow'd, hoped and fear'd, Hated and loved, in time's relentless flight, Have been, by generations, swept away, Like shadows, from the earth. But sadder still, Alethinks, the alteration wrought by age In those who yet remain. These thirty vears A house hath scarce been built, a tree cut down, A new shop open'd, — scarce a public -house Been deck'd with a new sign, or changed as vet Ought but its owner's name, in all this street. The castle ditch alone, (last remnant left Of feudal recollections,) hath indeed Long since, by hands barbarian, been plough'd up And planted with potatoes ; its rich shade 20 THE DREAM OE LIFE. Of beeches levell'd, and the fair alcove Which crown'd its spacious bowling-green, pull'd down. Nought else seems alter'd, save the face of man ; But that, how strangely ! Yesterday I pass'd An infant school-room, echoing 1 to the hum Of children's voices on their tasks intent; And, through the open window, could discern The features of their mistress. 'Twas a face, Almost the first which Memory, looking back Through forty years, remembers to have loved ; — The face of one long since our nursery-maid, The beauty of the village. Around her Our young imaginations fondly clung, And, in her features, seem'd to recognize The bright ideals of our fairy tales Mysteriously embodied. In our eyes, She was the princess Eglantine, adored Of Valentine and Orson ; — Ave the twins Contending for her hand. The Sabra she Who loved St. George of England, and by him Was lost amidst the forest ; then straightway Protected by a lion. She alone Seem'd gentle Graciosa's living type, Through depths unknown of trouble and distress, Still constant to her Percinet. — Nor lack'd Our spite a fitting representative Of old malicious Grognon, — that foul hag Who persecuted beauty, youth, and love, For very ugliness. Her, to the life, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 21 We found depicted in a spinster sour, The despot of our nursery ;— one whose tried And unirapeach'd devotion to her charge Compensated, in fond parental eyes, For all her inborn crabbedness ; who ruled With undisputed, arbitrary sway The rising- generation, and the risen ; Queen'd it supreme o'er mistress and o'er maid ; And thus, by rigour of tyrannic rule, Combined in close-knit league against herself, Us and our pretty play-mate. In revenge Of wrongs, supposed or real, her we named Witch, ogre, wicked fairy, goblin, imp, Giantess, evil genius, Afrit, goule, And whatsoever abhorr'd and hateful tiring Imagination of the East or West Hath ever bodied forth. And yet, in truth, Much cause had we to love her, could the love Of children be obtain'd by honest zeal Apart from gentleness ; — and if sometimes She yielded to infirmity, — if years, Approaching to threescore, had fail'd to quench, In her, the wish to be a wife, and thus Made her too oft the dupe of needy men, Seeking not her but hers, and furnish'd food For laughter even to us, — be that forgot In the remembrance of her faithful life And melancholy death. For, — after years In strict discharge of anxious duty spent, Worn out at last by the incessant fret 22 THE DREAM OF LIFE. And fever of a spirit ill at ease, And, haply, vex'd by our perversity Almost beyond endurance, — she resolved To quit our parents' service, and retire, On the small savings by long labour earn'd, To end her days in peace ; — then changed her mind. Through love for us and ours ; — again resolved, — And yet again repented ; — till at last, Wearied by what, in her, appear'd caprice, Our parents lost all patience, and resolved She should indeed depart. Thenceforth no more She lifted up her head, nor could regain Her full command of reason : — from her home She wander'd and return'd not: — in the end, After long, anxious seaivh, her corpse was found Beneath the Severn waters. But the maid, — The dark -eyed heroine of fairy-land, — Kow hath her fortune sped ? Alas ! her tale Is one of kindred sorrow. Long ago (So long that I can scarce remember when) She married ; and had he, to whom she gave Her hand and heart, been worthy of the gift, Might now have held her head above the crowd With decent self respect : — alas ! he proved A drunkard and a brute. Soon ruin came, And gaunt-eyed famine stared them in the face : Her children proved rebellious, and she lived A broken-hearted woman, struggling still, In unsubdued nobility of soul, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 23 With care, and want, and sorrow ; till at length Compassion and respect for her meek worth, From those whom she had served in early youth, Made her the mistress of that infant school Where yesterday I found her ; — but alas ! How should a wounded spirit, such as hers, Bear up against her task ? — what energy, In her, remains to vary and sustain Perpetual sallies of exciting sport, And stimulative effort ? — how should she, Whose heart is bleeding for her husband's sin, Her offspring lost, her home left desolate — How should she feel the interest, here required, In children not her own ? AVith listless air She sits, in dull, mechanical routine, Dragging along her weary load of tasks ; Dispensing vain rewards and punishments ; Dispirited and jaded by the sound Of voices which she heeds not; till the clock, With wish'd-for stroke, announces her release, Emancipating from ungrateful toil The teacher and the taught. — Thus Life's romance Begins and ends : — its moral, — that our world Is, was, and, till redemption's closing day, Must evermore remain a vale of tears. Yet there are spots of sunshine even on Earth ; — Green islands in the desart, which the sands Entomb not, nor the tempests overwhelm : — Spots which, long cherish'd in our heart of hearts, Then, after many years revisited, 24 THE DREAM OF LIFE. We find still fresh and fragrant. Yonder lane, Which, — from the church-yard gate commencing-. skirts The school enclosure and the castle ditch, — Leads, in the space of some two hundred yards. Beside a lonely cottage, from the path Divided by a wicket. It was once, (Far within my remembrance,) the abode Of a kind aged couple, who, when years Had made the man unfit to earn his bread At that mechanic craft which he had learnt And practised, as a builder, all his life, From business and its cares at length withdrew, Surrendering to a son-in-law their trade And daily occupation. In their home, The latter with his wife, their only child, — (Themselves, in middle age, a childless pair,) Came to reside ; and though her husband seem'd To some a vain and consequential man, The frank and noble nature of his wife Made more than full amends for what appear'd Deficiencies in him. There seem'd to rest A blessing on that house ;— Content was there, And filial duty, with connubial love Holding, in one warm bosom, constant sway, And spreading through the home in which it dwelt Perpetual sunshine. Between them and us (The cottage and the vicarage) grew up A friendship, such as we had sought in vain Beneath less humble roofs. Nature had set THE DREAM OF LIFE. 25 On that old man and woman, at their birth, The seal of true gentility, which they Transmitted to their daughter. Oft in her, When other sources fail'd, was found advice And consolation, sympathy and help, Amidst those worldly troubles which must fall On rich and poor alike. Full oft was she The confidante of sorrows, to no ear But hers entrusted ; and, for us, whose age Reck'd of no nice distinction between ranks, But clung- to kindness, wheresoever found, With instinct true and keen, — in all the world There was no heart like hers. Day after day, In pairs or singly, — sometimes all at once, — We stole from home, to prattle and to play In that old cottage and the timber-yard Adjacent. I shall never, while I live, Forget the old man's cheerful countenance, Lit up with gleams of humour, as he sat And welcomed us in his accustomed seat Within the chimney corner ; — his broad jests, — His cordial fun, — his brown, close, curly wig, His straight blue coat with monstrous buttons starr'd, — His nether garments, plush or velveteen,— The sky-blue worsted stockings on his shanks, — The buckles in his shoes. His busy wife, Unbroken by the weight of fourscore years, Meanwhile, with ceaseless footsteps, roam'd about, And plied her household tasks, with ready tact 26 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Assisted by her daughter, and by us Impeded sorely ; — yet they never lost Patience or kindness, but still bore our freaks And follies with a spirit imperturb'd ; Nor wearied of such pert impertinence As would have wearied Job. On baking-days, Which we by instinct knew, their batch contain'd (Nor ever fail'd) one smoking cake for us, — One smoking, butter'd cake ! — Their cider-press Ream'd with rich draughts for us ; — their garden teem d With gooseberries and currants, which to us Yielded unstintingly their luscious juice. We were the lords of all that fair domain, — Too oft, perhaps, the tyrants. Time roll'd on ; We left the place and country, — nor return'd, Till thirteen years had pass'd. The old man then Had, in the ripeness of full ninety years, Been gather'd to his fathers ; and his wife Slept with him side by side. The cottage still Shelters the younger pair, who, in their turn, Themselves have sunk into the vale of years ; And to our children are, what once, to us, Their parents used to be. Nay, so robust Their age appears, that haply they may see Another generation. To their house Our steps still daily turn, when we renew Our visits to the neighbourhood, and still They welcome us as they were ever wont, And spoil our children with as right good will THE DREAM OF LIEF. 27 As once they spoil'd the parents. All remains Beneath that roof unchanged ; — upon the shelves The clean, white rows of plates, and in the midst, One ofg-reen wedgwood, still uncrack'd ; above The chimney-piece, its old abundant store Of tin and pewter, amidst which appears (Chief ornament) a glittering- brazen cross, Which, fifty years ago, the husband bore, Surmounting the blue staff, on festal days. Borne by the members of the Friendly Club. The wife (except that threescore years and ten Have silver'd o'er her hair) continues still The same in form and feature. Age hath tamed The loftier spirit of her partner down ; Who, when I visited their cottage last, Was reading', with a fix'd, abstracted look, The Olney hymns. To me it seems as though That couple and the world must live and die Together ; and whene'er their humble roof Shall shelter other tenants, 'twill be time For me to close, for ever, Memory's book, And cease to think on scenes and days gone by. With feelings different far, yet not unmix'd W T ith melancholy interest, I behold Yon square-built house, by jealous walls and gates (Enclosing, in its front, a spacious court,) Shut out and barricaded from the street. A proud, aristocratic Hall it seems, Not courting, but, discouraging approach, Save from a favour'd few. For many a year 28 THE DREAM OF LIFE. That house hath been to me a place forbid, — Impervious, inaccessible. And yet Few are there with remembrances more rich Of young enjoyment in my thought combined ; Enjoyment brief, but pure. 'Twas long the home Of one with deepest sorrow conversant ; A wife and mother, o'er whose later years, Blameless, yet broken-hearted, be a veil Of reverential silence drawn by me. Her elder sons and daughters had grown up Almost to youthful prime, while I was yet A boy unbreech'd, — the youngest, some few years My senior ; — we could scarce be playfellows, And yet were oft companions. 'Twas to them A dignified delight to guide our sports, And teach us new ones ; — to protect and aid Our tender age ; — and well did they discharge Such duty, self-imposed. On Sunday noons, As we return'd from church, we never fail'd To greet each other in the street, — and then, To us, it was the proudest joy on earth To be invited, (as full oft we were,) To end the day with them :— at will we roam'd Around their spacious garden, and a>t will Warrder'd, with them, about the fields at eve, Until the sun had set : — then, to beguile The twilight hours, the book of Common Prayer, Adorn'd with wondrous prints, was summon'd in ; And sometimes hymns were sung, which still, me- thought, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 29 Sounded most sweetly from that Lady's lips. So pass'd our Sunday blameless ; nor alone Our Sunday, — for on week-days too we met Not rarely, nor with stinted intercourse : Until between our parents discord fell, From pastoral duty faithfully perform'd, And marr'd our old companionship. — Not ours The fault, — and yet to us the fruits it bore Appear'd most bitter. I remember well, The evening" when (all prospect being- past Of reconciliation) our young friends Came, at their father's bidding, to our house, To bid their last farewell. A sad one 'twas ; And, from that time, a strange unnatural state Of separation between house and house For years and years continued. We, became The village Capulets and Montagus ; Yet all save one — (the master of one house) Most anxious for re-union ; — nor, perhaps, Could his sole pleasure (e'en had he so will'd) Have ended all communion between those Whom inclination join'd. From time to time We met and talk'd together ; — it befell, Day after day, by strangest accident, That they and we both walk'd at the same hour, Both hit on the same walks. As years pass'd on, And youth began to dawn, those walks assumed A more romantic air. Love- rhymes were writ, And assignations made, and duly kept, With more deliberate purpose : — then commenced 30 THE DREAM OF LIFE. The nightly serenade, — the moonlight stroll ; And, but for some disparity of years, Perchance the hostile houses had not lack'd A Romeo or a Juliet. — Those wild days Have long- been over, and the grave hath closed Above both wife and husband ; yet even now Dark sorrow seems to brood upon that house, Enwrapping it in gloom — through which appear Gleams, not, I trust, delusive, of that light Which shineth more and more to perfect day. But all, too long this retrospective mood I cherish, — with a fond garrulity Babbling, at life's full noon, of morning dreams. Tis time I should awake : — and yet each spot Around me teems with recollections, such As I would fain indulge. There's nought so mean And insignificant in all this place, But is endued with power to strike some chord Of old associations. Yonder barn, Secluded from the street a little space, And in no wise distinguish'd outwardly From others of its class, was once to me A scene of strange enchantment ; for a troop Of strolling players built up beneath its roof Their rude and rustic theatre. Till then The drama was, to us, an unknown world, Save that when last our family had gone To visit the metropolis, (a rare And wonderful occurrence) we all went THE DREAM OF LIFE. To Sadler's Wells and Astley's. Ne'er again Was such intense illusion to beguile Our senses and our souls as seized us then. We were at once translated from this world Of sober daylight to a fairy realm, Mysteriously existing* in the midst Of human habitations, yet from all Distinct and self-compact, by human laws Ungovern'd, and to rules conventional Of human custom unamenable. The theatre itself appear'd to us A palace of enchantment, — its gay tiers Of gilded boxes semicircular- Its mirror'd columns — its glass chandeliers, — The central lustre, by some means unknown, But necromantic, as appear'd to us, Drawn up into the ceiling, and again Descending to its place — the row of lights, With sudden blaze emerging from the floor, — The dark green curtain, veiling from our sight An unknown world, mysterious, — the first note Prelusive of the tuning orchestra, Soon bursting, with sublime and swelling crash. Into full concord of harmonious sound, — The rising of the curtain, all at once Disclosing to our sight transcendent scenes Of brilliancy and bliss, surpassing all Our young imagination e'er had dream'd Of fairy-land — our fairy tales themselves (For so it chanced) no longer by the mind 32 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Imperfectly received, but to the eye Reveal'd distinctly — Beauty and the Beast, Tom Thumb, and Cinderella, by strange art Converted from mere phantoms of the thought To visible realities — all this Was, to our minds, a new creation, fraught With glory from some brighter world derived. The very orange-women seem'd to us Scarce of this earth, — scarce earthly. Such had been Our earliest joys theatrical : but now The full illusion was, in part, to cease ; And nature, stripp'd of pomp and circumstance. To supersede enchantment. Small and low, — Hung round with tapestry of worn out scenes, And, by a thin partition, into pit And gallery scarce divided — its whole band One solitary fiddle — sometimes two, — Its stage cribb'd, cabin'd, and confined — with few And paltry decorations, — dresses, scenes, All suited each to each, — that theatre E'en at first sight, gave warning, by its looks, That histrionic art within those walls, Apart from all appliances and means, Must, by its strength or weakness, stand or fall. Yet there did mimick talent, with all aid Of outward show dispensing, in our hearts Awaken childhood's earnest sympathies. There we rejoiced with them that did rejoice, And wept with them that wept; — there learnt to feel THE DREAM OF LIFE. 33 The dignity of Virtue in distress, And with her triumphs sympathize; — there grieved For Woman's bitter wrong, and burnt with zeal Heroic to avenge it. Were such thoughts And feelings sinful all ? In sober truth, When I review those hours, I deem them not Mispent or useless ; — and if riper years, Instructing me more fully in the lore Of good and evil, have reveal'd a world Of mischief in the stage, — if I forbear To breathe its dangerous atmosphere, or soil My priestly garments with the taint it bears, — Such sacrifice I grudge not, but exult W T ith thankfulness that I have better joys To gladden me on Earth : — but then no doubt Or dim misgiving e'er had cross'd my mind ; No dark suspicion of inherent guilt Estranged me from its magic : — all the ill (If ill there was) by me was unperceived ; The good, I think, remain'd with me : — some thoughts And feelings were develop'd, which perchance, In after years, have sway'd my inner man With no unwholesome influence ; — some power Was given me to perform my task on Earth. Fair valley, verdant pastures, gentle stream Winding along thy bold and wooded banks, With most melodious murmur ;— noble hills, Mountains almost, o'ershadowing, with your dark And craggy grandeur, scenes than which our isle 2 D 34 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Can scarcely boast more beauteous ; — tranquil town ; — Grey, venerable Church, with steeple white Up tapering to the dim and distant sky ; — Church in whose gothic aisles I first beheld And join'd, as childhood could, the solemn forms Of Christian worship; — thou, too, noble Hall — Crowning yon wooded hill in gorgeous state Of architectural magnificence ; — Hall long deserted, and, for many a day, Connected in our fancies with dark tales Of Romish priestcraft,— visited sometimes, And view'd, by me and mine, through all thy suites Of empty rooms and mouldering furniture, With somewhat of a superstitious awe ;— And, last and dearest, my paternal roof, Not yet — not soon, I trust, to pass away, With this frail life's continuance, from the pair Whom still it shelters ; — each and all, farewell ! There is no spot in all that span of earth By me best known, to which with livelier grief I speak that parting word, than this wherein Ye congregate and crowd upon my sight. And yet, for me, is Britain studded o'er With spots to memory dear, — and some almost As beautiful as this. E'en now I go To join, in haunts which I have loved for years, Those whom I love still better : — nothing loth, And yet with swelling heart, I take my leave Of this sweet region, in my inmost heart THE DREAM OF LIFE. 35 Cherish'd through life, revisited with joy Still fresh, still pure as ever ! — not for long, Not, as I trust, for many tedious months I now depart : — Home of my earliest years ! My heart's first home ! — once more — farewell ! fare- well ! THE DREAM OF LIFE. BOOK II. BOYHOOD. INSCRIBED TO MY CHILDREN. Shades of the prison-house begin to close Tpon the growing boy. WORDSWORTH. THE DREAM OF LIFE. BOOK II. BOYHOOD. My sons — and ye especially, my first And second born, whose years already pass That term which to the schoolboys dignity Advances, for the most part, your compeers — To you this second lay, design'd to tell A schoolboy's tale, I dedicate. — Ere long, Or singly, or together, you must launch Your untried skiffs from this calm harbour, home, On school's tempestuous sea ; — not all unfit,— Not unprepared by previous discipline, I trust, albeit home-nurtured, to essay Such voyage ; — for not delicately rear'd In mind or body, not in nursery cage Too long immured, nor pamper'd have ye been With drawing-room delights, nor train'd to trip In lady-like gymnastics, nor imbued With lore alone which ladies love to teach ; But, from your tender years, to sports robust Inured, and manly studies. — Ye could climb, Ere seven years old, with toil of hands and knees, The loftiest peak of Arran's mountain ridge, Where eagles train their nestlings ; — ye can breast 40 THE DREAM OF LIFE. The ocean-waves, and buffet them away With lusty strokes ; — on horseback or afoot, Ye shrink from no fatigue ;— thro' Doon's clear pools, Reckless how deep, the livelong- summer day, With rod in hand ye plunge, nor quit your sport E'en though the inclement skies should pelt and pour A deluge on your heads ; — and when the frost With panoply of thickest ice hath mail'd Our Avon's bosom, ye on trenchant skates Athwart the glassy surface, swift as light, Curve within curve describe, — not inexpert E'en at the " outside edge :" — Nor have your minds Been all untutor'd, nor with ancient lore And modern unimbued : — but chiefly ye Have, by the wisdom of a mother's heart, And that most holy tenderness of love, Which none but mothers feel, been taught to know And reverence Truth and Virtue : — ye have spent Your infancy and childhood, and the dawn Of thoughtful life, by impulses to good, And many a pure, religious influence Surrounded and impell'd : — no morn hath risen, No night closed round the world, but ye have knelt (And oft, I trust, with no unthoughtful prayer,) Spreading the open volume of your hearts Before God's throne, in words first taught by her To whom you owe your earthly, and whate'er Of heavenly life, is yours : — Her solemn tones Discoursing, ere you slept, at your bedsides, Of righteousness, of judgment, and of sin, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 41 Of Providence and duty, oft and oft Have mingled with your dreams, excluding thence All foul and hateful images : — your tasks, Your pleasures, your employments, have by her Been ruled and guided, sweeten'd and applied With most prevailing wisdom, to those ends Which she hath most at heart : — your home hath been A happy one — the centre and the source Of healthful joys, which ye have minister'd Each to the other, or together shared ; And thus have learnt, through mutual self-restraint, And mutual joy, imparted and received, To love each other dearly. — I am sure That — whatsoever may in after years Befall you, — both will always love your home, — Your childhood's home, — and that the thought of it Will be a purifying thought to both, When we are in our grave. Nor will you lose E'en yet, I trust, its shelter : — School, to you, Will bring no exile from the haunts you love, From cheering and familiar looks and words, Or from parental aid : — amidst the cares, The conflicts, and the interests, new and strange, The doubts and the distresses, which, ere long, Must chequer your school life, you will retain One harbour and sure hold ; — unlike your sire, Who, in old times, when railways yet were not, And coaches travell'd scarce six miles an hour, At eight years old was sent away to school A hundred miles from home. 42 THE DREAM OF LIFE. In after life, With all its ebbs and flows of joy and grief, Its tears and smiles, its welcomes and farewells, There is no separation like that first Between the child and parent. — I can still Remember how, when it had been resolved That I should go to school, it seem'd to me As though some fearful evil, undefined, Mysterious, vague, hung over me ; — my heart Presaged, it knew not what, — disruption dire Of old home ties and sympathies, — dread loss Of comforts and of kindness, ne'er till then Esteem'd or valued, and, in place of these, Harsh treatment, stern restraint, relentless law, Inexorable justice. — Fearful tales Of academic discipline severe, Stripes and starvation, and imprisonment, Rose up from memory's cells in grim array, To scare imagination. — Well for me, It chanced that on our road we were to halt (My father and myself) for some few days At an ancestral mansion, there to meet A cousin, who (my senior by five years,) Was, at the school to which we both were bound, To act as my protector. — The last boon Vouchsafed me was to fix the fatal day On which we should leave home ; and I, who oft Had been most happy in that ancient Hall, Of two proposed, decided on the first, There to prolong my stay ; but when I saw THE DREAM OF LIFE. 43 My mother's grieved and disappointed look, Though she spoke not, I felt my choice was wrong, And the next moment, would have barter'd worlds For leave to change it,— yet, through pride or shame, Still held my peace perversely : — so we went As it had been resolved, and in few days, (Our passing visit ended) reach'd the town Where dwelt my future pedagogue. E'en now I well remember, how, with lingering wheels, Our chaise approach' d the house : — it was a low White plaister'd vicarage, in front of which, A row of close-trimm'd limes, which interlaced Their topmost branches, form'd a sort of fence Between it and the churchyard : — not far off Stood the old church itself, against whose broad And battlemented tower, some striplings tall (Grown men they seem'd to me) were playing then, Irreverently, I thought, a game at fives. The master, a pale man of sixty years, In curl'd and powder'd and full bottom'd wig, (The symbol, then, of pedagogues) advanced Beneath the limes to welcome us, and soon, Within a comfortable parlour housed, We with his wife, himself, and his two sons, Assistants and joint partners in the school, Were holding fearless converse : — the dread spell Was broken ; — school seem'd not so dread a place As I had still conceived it ; — half the weight That lay upon my heart was taken off; And not until the parting moment came, — 44 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Not till my parent, seated in the chaise, Which was to bear him homeward, turn'd him round To take his farewell look, did I, at last, Feel all my desolation. — There I stood, Surrounded by strange faces, each and all Impertinently curious — every tongue Let loose in countless questionings ; — my name, Age, parentage, condition, birth-place, home, Proficiency in Latin — with swift haste, Ask'd, answer'd, and reported; — I meanwhile Awkward and shy, and grievously perplex'd By such unceasing cannonade of talk, Stood helpless ; — here and there a face express'd Compassion, as I thought, and sympathy : Nor was I, with my kinsman at my side, Bereft of all protection ; — yet it seem'd That when, with sudden clang, the bell rang out Which summon'd us to supper, I was freed, As by a friendly voice, from the assaults Of reckless persecution. — But, that meal ! — That first school supper ! — how unlike it seem'd The comfortable board with tea-cups graced, The glory of my home ! — those tables rough, Unconscious of a table-cloth, with ink Profusely flooded, and by pocket-knives, In characters of every size and shape, With names of generations past inscribed ; — Those masses, huge and square, of flaccid cheese, And bread unbutter'd, which each ravenous boy, Plateless and forkless, seized with eager grasp THE DREAM OF LIFE. 45 And carved, like hungry ploughman, with a knife Drawn from his pouch ; — those tall white earthen quarts Of drink, by men call'd beer, but swipes by boys ; — Such fare, so served, demanded hungrier maw Than mine yet was, to relish it. — Full soon The meal was ended, and — without a word Of grace, or vesper service offer'd up, — We were dismiss'd to bed ;— so prayerless then Were all our English schools ; — but ere I slept, The thought of home and habits home-instill'd Came fresh upon my heart : — with bended knee And clear articulation, undismay'd, I said my wonted prayer. — Our master's wife, Who stood beside me, I remember well, Seem'd touch'd by such unwonted fear of Heaven ; And, bidding me good night, devoutly pray'd That I might long remain what then I was. Vain hope ! — a martyr's spirit would have quail'd (Had such been mine) beneath the unpitying storm Of ridicule and insult, rude reproach, And scorn contemptuous, which, from that wild rout Of boisterous urchins burst upon the head Of such as, like myself, retain'd as yet Some remnant of home-feelings — some faint trace Of care for holy things. — It was their pride, — Their never failing sport, to drag to light 46 THE DREAM OF LIFE. The secret thoughts of each most gentle heart, And then, with rude, sarcastic ribaldry, To set them up for laughing-stocks. — The soul, Thus outraged, sunk into itself aghast, And brooded o'er its treasure silently, Not without deep resentment. — Some there were, Who, with deceitful show of sympathy, Would worm their way into the confidence Of unsuspecting victims,— win complete An unreserved disclosure of whate'er Lay nearest to their hearts, — the names they loved, Their fond remembrances of home-delights, — The hopes they cherish'd — all that was the food, The pure refreshment of their inner life ; — Then straight betray the secrets, darkly won, And, with demoniac insult, rend and crush The feelings and affections thus evoked From the soul's inmost depths. — Ithad been strange Had spirits, thus abused, retain'd unchill'd Their innate tenderness. — Ere long, a new And less confiding nature crusted o'er The surface of the old : — their hearts were sear'd And harden'd to the blows they had to bear ; And what they lost in tenderness, perchance They gain'd in firm endurance, — thus prepared To grapple with the world, and breathe, unhurt, Its chilling atmosphere. — Such lot was mine ; Such must be yours, my children. — Be it so ; I seek not to avert what I lament, But know to be the inevitable doom THE DREAM OF LIFE. 47 Of Man in this rude Earth ; — perchance 'tis well That this, your first collision with the world, Should also be your bitterest. Yet think not That, when that shock is o'er, the schoolboy life Is otherwise than happy. Time heals o'er The wounds which the young heart so keenly feels : Our nature soon conforms itself to that Of each new world in which it is to dwell, And takes its form and impress : — such at least Was my experience ; — casting- off my shy Home-nurtured meekness, I began, ere long, To rough it with my fellows, and soon won From persecution clear immunity. Nor, when I now look back on those old days, Can I discern much real grief mix'd up With their abundant gladness. — In that school, Terror and pain and punishment were known So little, that, ere many days had past, I learnt to deem the tales, which I had heard Of magisterial tyranny, profane And old wives fables : — birchen rods appeared Mere figments of the brain ; and weeks elapsed Ere execution on one luckless wight Duly perform'd, proved that, beyond all doubt, Such tales were fundamentally correct, And true at bottom. — Thus our school-hours pass'd, Not often sadly ; and, when school was o'er, We had abundant change of joyous sports ; — Fives, cricket, foot-ball, in its season each ; 48 THE DREAM OF LIFE. And (what to horticultural adepts Yielded a graver joy) to each his plot Of garden ground assign'd, producing crops Of choicest salad-herbs, — green lettuces, Mustard and cress, and radishes, oblong Or turnip-shaped, which graced our evening meal, And added to its relish. — Once a year Each gather'd of green gooseberries, wherewithal, From his own garden, to compound a pie, Which, baked at the adjacent pastry-cook's, Supplied a crowning feast. — On summer eves, Conducted by our masters, and with them Sharing the rapturous pleasure, we were wont In Rennet's silver stream to plunge amain. Ah me ! to think how sorely, at the first, My heart misgave me ! — what a weight of fear I hid beneath a bold and cheerful brow, When on the river's grassy marge I stood, And heard the mill-dam waters, through their gates Let loose, with thundering torrent rage and roar ! Brief terror ! soon succeeded by delight Extatic. Nor were more romantic joys Denied us ; — to a neighbouring forest, ranged By herds of the red deer, sometimes we went On holidays, and underneath an oak (The forest monarch) spread upon the grass Our sylvan banquet : — there, from branch to branch We chased the squirrels, and sometimes, athirst For manlier sport, assail'd the herd itself, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 49 Like Robin Hood's bold outlaws in the glades Of Sherwood ; — but such holidays were rare : Our every-day diversions were confined Almost within the churchyard's narrow bounds. Amidst the graves we sported, rarely touch'd By aught of solemn feeling, to the place Accordant — save that never, after dark, We loved to pass near one mysterious part Of the old church — a kind of catacomb Or mausoleum on the northern side, Encompassing a single marble tomb, — A tomb without a name, inscriptionless. Of him who slept beneath it fearful things Were rumour'd and believed — a dark, strange tale Of infant murder — of acquittal gain'd Through legal subtlety — of large estates, Held by the owner of a neighbouring Hall, For service by an ancestor perform'd, In dread forensic strife for life or death, To that mysterious tenant of the grave. 'Twas seldom that the door of that dread vault Was open'd ; — when it was, with shuddering awe Sometimes we ventured in, and there beheld, Suspended on the wall, the mouldering lines Of a pale portrait, and what seem'd to us The etching of some dark mysterious deed Cut rudely upon brass. But 'twas not long Before that churchyard in our eyes assumed An interest more impressive : — in her home, 2 E 50 THE DREAM OF LIFE. After long years of patient slow decline, Our master's daughter died. Her once I saw White as a sheeted ghost, with thin blue lips Emaciate — Death's dread seal upon her brow, — Yet not, methought, unlovely : — with a friend, — A female friend, the solace and support Of her long weary sickness, she conversed In whisper'd accents, — for her voice was gone ; And when I look'd upon her face, even I Could tell her end was near : — full soon it came : — We heard that she was dead, and, in few days, Were summon'd to attend her to the grave. That long procession of dejected boys Following the corpse of one almost as young As some among themselves, and to the dust Beholding her, with solemn rites, consign'd, — That was my first near intercourse with death. But few months pass'd ere to the daughter's tomb The mother too was borne, and, with his sons, Unbroken still, although by grief sore tried, The father lived a widower. Shades like these, Gloomy but transient, swept across the heart Even of that childish, gay community ; But soon their trace wore off, and joy return'd, Brighter from brief suspension : — yet, though grief To us was a rare visitant, — though scarce Could we, in conscience, whisper to ourselves That w r e could well be happier than we were — With what intense expectant eagerness THE DREAM OF LIFE. 51 We look'd for our deliverance ; and when June Brought back the roses, or December bound The earth in frosty chains, with what parade Of science arithmetical we framed Our calendars of weeks, and days, and hours ; Computing- the minutest point of time Which must elapse before the holidays. Then, when the wish'd-for morning had arrived, How we awoke ere sunrise ! — if 'twas dark, How eagerly we watch'd for the first streak Of candle-light beneath our bed-room doors Significantly stealing ! — in what haste We huddled on our clothes ! — with ears how keen We listen'd for the roll of distant wheels ! And when, before the gate, the long array Of chaises from the neighbouring town dispatch'd To bear us to our homes, assembled stood, Who could restrain his transport ? — Then what din Of horns arose ! — what ceaseless cannonade Of pea-shooters and pop-guns ! — with what zeal Of emulative mischief shots were aim'd At windows which we pass'd ! — how proud was he Who crack'd the largest number ! — but even these. Though joys indeed, were joys of small account Compared to that intensity of bliss Which I at least enjoy'd, when I approach 'd Once more my wish'd for home. — Some three miles off, Familiar haunts and walks which I had loved, And spots connected, in my heart of hearts, 52 THE DREAM OF LIFE. With pleasant recollections, by degrees Stole on me in succession ; — nor, I think, Shall I, as long as I exist, forget How, at one well-known angle in the road, My Father, who on horseback had come forth To welcome me, appear'd; — next, some small space Behind, in mirthful and expectant group, Brothers and sisters, in full progress all, To meet and ride home with me in the chaise. That night I slept once more in my old bed, — My own old darling bed ; — its site unchanged, The pattern of its curtains still the same ; And if unmix'd contentment e'er was mine, 'Twas in the sober certainty I felt Of its complete identity. But Time, Jealous of day-dreams at life's sober noon, Forbids me to enlarge upon the joys And sorrows of those early schoolboy years. Scarce noticed I pass o'er the Christmas sports Of multifarious cousins, round one hearth, From the four quarters of the compass met, Filling one spacious ancestorial Hall With the loud uproar of their merriment ; The childrens' dance — the game at blind man's buff,— The courtships and flirtations, three parts jest, And one part earnest, between boy and girl Already knit in bonds of cousinhood ; — Then, — with a breath dissolving love's light chains,— THE DREAM OF LIFE. 53 Black Monday, and his heart-breaking farewells ; — The swift transition from the land of dreams Ethereal, bright, Elysian, to the dull And working-day realities of school ; — The qualms of sad home-sickness, soon dispell'd By studies and diversions in swift round Alternating, yet still, from time to time, Admitting to the mind's abstracted gaze Bright glimpses of remember'd looks and forms ; — These, and ten thousand griefs and joys like these, — Successes, disappointments, hopes fulfill'd, And expectations blighted, friendships form'd And enmities incurr'd — the good and ill Strangely commix'd and blended, which make up The schoolboy's portion — must I leave unsung : Yet not without a word of grateful praise And frank acknowledgment of good received, Would I cast off the thought of that old school And all its recollections. — I believe That, not for rudiments of classic lore Alone, or other knowledge ably taught, Do I remain its debtor, but for much Of what is now least blamable, and bad In all my moral Being. — We were school'd Not by mere pedants — academic dolts, With heart and soul all syntax, but by men With hearts and souls of men, who loved to make Their pupils their companions, — ate and drank At the same board, and in their presence spoke 54 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Of what Goncern'd themselves. — Of open heart They were, and if the boldness of their speech And humour sometimes overstepp'd the bounds Of clerical decorum — if they seem'd Less strict in their conformity to rules Conventional — less careful of the shows Which the world's voice exacts of clergymen, Than friends desired, or foes could fail to wish — There was in them a manliness of soul — A blunt contempt for the world's hollow forms, And seemings hypocritical, which taught Us also how to think and act like men. The spirit of the masters was, in part, Diffused among the scholars ; — we became Attach'd to them, and to their dwelling-place ; Nor less to one another ; — and at last, When the time came which summon'd me away For ever, I went forth like one who leaves His native land and kindred :— sad farewells Given and received, and benedictions breathed From no unfervent hearts — pressure of hands, Sad looks and tears that could not be restrain'd, Attended my departure as I pass'd Forth from the door which never more should ope To me as to an inmate. Once again, When near twelve years had pass'd, I saw that house, And spent a day and night beneath its roof, And slept where I had slept, and traced once more Each of my boyhood's haunts. — I scarcely think THE DREAM OF LIFE. 55 That now, when others dwell there — now, when life With me hath reach 'd its zenith, and must soon Begin to sink into the vale of years, — I e'er again could find it in my heart There to repeat my visit. But I turn To scenes more famous, nor to me less dear, — Nay dearer, and with feelings more profound And holy in remembrance close entwined ; — Birth-place, to me, of poesy and love, Amidst whose classic shades, in after years, Tarrying, I found and woo'd, and proudly won Her who, for sixteen years, hath been the stay And solace of my pilgrimage on earth ; The mother of my children, the unchanged, Unwearied partner of my joys and griefs. Fair art thou, with thy crown of ancient towers, Thy cloister'd dim arcades, thy spacious courts, Thy verdant fields and venerable trees, Reflected in the mirror broad and clear Of thy praeterfluent Thames. — With what a calm Proud confidence thou seem'st to nestle close Beneath yon castle's overshadowing wing! As conscious of the loyalty thou lov'st To cherish in thy sons. — With reverent heart I greet thee — not unmindful of the good For which I am thy debtor ; nor, if aught Of evil was mix'd up with it, upbraid Thee and thy noble nurture for a fault In part or all my own. — Etona, hail ! 56 THE DREAM OE LIFE. And mayst thou flourish ever ! — Far removed From thy fair shades, which yet, from year to year, I visit, and with love for ever fresh, And keen enjoyment, wander thro' and thro', — I summon from my heart's sepulchral depths Thy buried image. — Rise, as when I first Beheld thee, half expectant, half in fear Of that new world mysterious, unexplored, Within thy walls awaiting me. — Far off I saw thee— the grey pinnacles and spires Of thy majestic chapel o'er the pile Of dull, brick, massive ivy-mantled towers, Rising in Gothic pride — thy verdant meads Sprinkled with youthful cricketers, and bright With vernal sunshine. — Beautiful thou wast, And with thy loveliest smiles didst welcome me, A stranger, to thy bosom ; — yet not then (Albeit a stranger) simple or unversed In all the ways of schoolboys, but with front Bold and defiant, and with spirit prompt To meet, and, if need were, repel the assaults Of tyrannous oppression : — to such pitch Of rude blunt valour had experience, gain'd Through previousbuffets, strung me,though in sooth, By nature not a brawler, nor inclined To pugilistic exploit : — but amidst Thy peaceful dwellings slender need I found Of such heroic daring : — there, enthroned On meet gradations of ascending ranks, Reign'd Order; — there, by firmest law secured, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 57 Right triumph'd over Might; — not strength alone, Nor skill to give, nor stubbornness to bear Black eye and bloody nose and bruise uncouth, Won station and respect, — nor kept them, won. A more mysterious, more majestic power Diffused through, and controlling, every rank Of that small commonwealth, was recognised, Felt, and obey'd. — No robber horde were we, Anarchical, self-will'd, by force alone From mutual wrong and violence restrain'd ; But a well-govern'd people, proud to own Legitimate control, and to maintain Our glorious constitution unimpair'd. And what if aristocracy, upheld By right prescriptive, ruled with feudal sway Her unenfranchised vassals, — still her yoke Was milder and less grievous to be borne Than arbitrary bondage, forced elsewhere By strength of fist, on the reluctant necks Of trembling urchins, all too weak to win The freedom which they sigh'd for. — Hard it seem'd, No doubt, on summer evenings, when the Thames Was all alive with skiffs, to toil and pant With infinite expenditure of breath, And reeking limbs and weariness of heart, Fetching and flinging home the volant ball Of some unflagging cricketer : — hard 'twas To rise before the lark, on menial tasks Intent, discharging with one pair of hands The offices of valet, footman, cook, 58 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Housemaid, and shoeblack ;— passing hard to spread. Hungry oneself and breakfastless, the board Of some luxurious despot, — he meanwhile Snoring supine ; — and oft would flesh rebel When summon'd by the cry of ' Lower Boy,' To do the bidding of an autocrat. Yet all such hardships, springing as they did Not from a tyrant's arbitrary will, But from the fix'd authority of law And immemorial custom, were endured With patience, nay with cheerfulness, as ills Essential to the state in which we lived, And not therefrom to be exterminate Without disruption dire of social bonds And urgent danger to the common weal : Transient withal, and soon to be exchanged, In due succession, for the sweets of power. Nor lack'd that state of vassalage its rights And privileges, by the weaker crowd Not to be lightly valued ; — some defence Against oppression, — patronage and aid In trouble or distress, — assistance lent In toils scholastic : — ne'er did thraldom wear A yoke less galling : — strong attachment oft Grew up between the master and the serf; And each, from the relation held to each, Derived some moral discipline — was taught Lessons which else he might have never learnt, Of kindness and forbearance, self-restraint, Submission and obedience. — Would that I, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 59 With my rash humour and impetuous blood, Had learnt those lessons better than I did ! Swift flew, on pleasure's wings, those early- months, The months of my noviciate : — slavery seem'd, (If slave I was) on that enchanted ground, Freer than freedom elsewhere : — I had broke A hundred galling fetters of restraint, For one (and that a light one) on my will Newly imposed : — a mighty change had past Across the spirit of my dream of life. It seem'd as though a new and ampler world Of Being to my vision was disclosed, Or that my soul had burst the embryo bonds Which held it, like the caterpillar, cramp'd, Till then, in grovelling form, to soar aloft On wings of new-born joyance. Now no more Within a playground's narrow bounds confined, Not without peril to be overpass'd, — Fetter'd no more to the despised routine Of sports and occupations which befit The pre-existent state of private school, — My spirit might expatiate, uncontroll'd, Through boundless realms of pleasure : — Space was free — Time only had its limits ; — field and grove, Water and land, — almost the air itself Lay open — the whole world before us smiled, Our portion and inheritance ! Nor lack'd The energies and faculties within 60 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Proportionate development: — our sports Plans, enterprises, aspirations, aims, Were all of manhood, manly : — tops and taws Were things forgotten ; — even the cricket-ground And fives-court held but secondary rank Among our recreations : — on the breast Of Thames, it was our pride in trim-built skiffs To shoot amain — now singly, now in crews, With lusty tug of oar, in eager race Contending ;— now along the river's marge Exploring unknown regions ; — and when June Brought round the birth-day of the good old king, (Our own especial patron,) — with what pride And pomp aquatic, in procession long, Our galleys clave the water ! — what wild rout Of horsemen on the banks ! — what jovial glee Of banqueters ! — and when a rocket's blaze, Scattering its fiery spangles on the sky, Gave notice that the ten-oar was in sight, How was each coign of vantage — bank and bridge, Boatyard and terraced garden^ wharf and quay, Window and roof, with congregated crowds Of gazers peopled ! — what sublime display Of pyrotechnic wonders seem'd to mock The all too tardy twilight ! — But even this, For some adventurous spirits, was too dull And spiritless a joy ! — Such burnt to win The sportsman's noble fame, albeit alloy'd By ill report of poacher : — with the dawn, O'erleaping the restraint of bolts and bars, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 61 They ranged, with dog and gun, the near preserves, Or from forbidden waters bore the lines Rich with nocturnal spoil : — the river swans, Breasting, with snow-white swell of downy plumes, The silvery stream, themselves were not exempt From rude assault, but stricken through and through By murderous volleys, yielded up their lives To daring marksmen ; then beneath the shade Of favouring night brought home, and for the spit With pomp of culinary skill prepared, Were roasted and served up — their savoury steam Provoking the keen appetites of those Who, like myself, eschewing sportsman craft, Shared not the sportsman's banquet : — on the turf Meanwhile athletic cricketers, for strife With the pick'd champions of some neighbouring club Preparing, plied the bat and drove the ball In lusty sport. — Oh ! who can e'er forget, When the day fix'd for final conflict came, How breathlessly we rush'd, from school let loose, To view the mighty game ! — how, from afar, Between the umbrageous trees of Poet's walk, The slim white figures of the combatants Glanced on our eager sight !— with what suspense,— What alternations swift of hope and fear, We watch'd the progress of the game !— and when On Eton's side the fatal wicket fell, Or aught occurr'd presaging her defeat, — How keen a pang of anguish and dismay 62 THE DREAM OF LIEE. Thrill'd through our trembling ranks !—then,if at last The fortune of the day declared for us, — With what a maddening shout of victory We rent the welkin ! — Waterloo itself, (For Waterloo was fought in those wild days) Scarce seem'd a mightier triumph than some match Won against Epsom. But to loftier strains Tune we our harp! — Descend, O Muse, and sing The glories of Long Chamber, ere its name, By march of innovation, from the earth Be, with itself, erased, — Ere I became Its denizen, dire tales had reach'd my ear Of horrors by its dreadful walls conceal'd ; Of slavery more oppressive than aught known Or e'en imagined by inventive thought, Among the happy dwellers in the town ; Of penal torments by no living tongue Divulged, nor e'er, beyond those prison walls, Known or conceived ; — myself the destined thrall Of one the most despotic of a race Of most imperious despots. — Time sped on ; The day arrived on which I was to don The gownsman's sable garb, — and after due Examination held, and solemn course Of ceremonial forms, on bended knee Observed with silent awe, night saw me housed Beneath that dreaded roof. — It was an hour Not soon to be forgotten. — Amidst sounds Discordant, multifarious, — song and shout, — THE DREAM OF LIFE. 63 Imperious summons and responsive cry- Reciprocal of master and of slave, — And long shrill whistle through the darkness heard — (Darkness scarce pierced by the thin glimmering light Of candle, here and there its feeble ray- Emitting through the interminable gloom Of that long spectral vault,) — with heart perplex'd, I sought my destined resting place : — but where Might resting-place be found ? — forlorn I gazed On all that endless row of bedsteads rude, Each bearing what appear'd a mattress coarse, Cover'd by coarser rug, alternating With rude mis-shapen semblance of bureaus, .Square, upright, with cerulean paint bedaub'd, — (Cerulean once, now with ten thousand hues Distain'd) — sole furniture in that grim den, Save tapestry of cobwebs, which had seen The days of the sixth Henry, — here in threads Of gossamer dependent from the roof, There curtaining, with folds of filmy mist, The smash 'd and flapping casements : — chair was none ; No, not a three-legg'd stool, nor oaken bench, Nor aught which ingenuity of need Might mould into a seat ; — no separate nook, Withdrawn and shelter'd from the public gaze, Where the poor novice might brief refuge find From tumult and bewilderment ; — all seem'd 64 THE DREAM OF LIFE. A maze of restless motion : — but ere long From out that weltering- chaos was evolv'd A world distinct and orderly ; — the din And hubbub had subsided ; — lights appear'd Forth starting in succession ; — beds arranged By nice precision of experienced hands, Were ready, at the apartment's upper end, For rest luxurious of aristocrats, Who, in their studies pent, or far apart In separate chambers, with each other held Exclusive converse, or with book and pen Beguiled the lingering hours : — the middle ranks, In pairs or cluster'd groups, paced to and fro, Ur lounged on unmade beds : — the vulgar herd (Their menial service done) in haste arranged Their own hard pallets, pillowless, and soon Sank into dreamless sleep, — some six or eight Alone excepted, from the rest in turn For senatorial functions, week by week, Selected, on the lordly board to spread The nightly meal, and do the high behests Of sixth-form revellers ; — to each his task Duly prescribed, as academic rank Denned his office ; — some, the upper mess, (So named) above the rest pre-eminent, Brought from the neighbouring buttery meat and bread, With foaming cans of beer ; — to some 'twas given To tend the nightly fire, and in their gowns (Ne'er meant for such base service) to bring home THE DREAM OF LIFE. 65 A ponderous load of coals, upon their backs Artistically piled ; — some, clerkly-wise, Noted, on tablets fair, with pen and ink The mandates of their lords, — by one, who watch'd Outside our prison bars, to be convey'd Into the farthest town, and thence evoke Luxurious freightage of nocturnal cheer. It were a work o'ertasking my poor strength To tell of half the feats within those walls Nightly perform'd ; — to paint the winter fire, By signal of the clock at half-past nine, Fenced round with bedsteads, for the middle ranks Forming a snug enclosure, within which, Story, and song, and jest, and laugh went round. Till bed-time came ; — to tell how, many an hour, While our proud seniors half the livelong night Conversed, until the embers died away, We lay awake and listen 'd to their talk, Now serious, now jocose, — with classic lore, Or speculation philosophical, Sometimes enrich'd, — sometimes with baser stuff Degraded and defiled ; — and how, on nights Of revelry, when coolest brains grew hot With wine and wassail, we, in trembling dread, Beneath our bed-clothes cower'd, till (every light Quench'd suddenly) in mad, tyrannic sport, Bedstead and bed, hurl'd suddenly aloft, Dislodged their luckless tenant, in dire plight, Heels upward on the floor. — But these were rare And soon forgotten hardships : — other sports 2 F 66 THE DREAM OF LIFE. More genial, nor exclusively enjoy 'd By the patrician few, from time to time Cheer'd our imprisonment : — in motley form Of merry masquerade, our mirth full oft Broke loose and ran mad riot : — High and low, With Saturnalian licence, burst their bonds Conventional, and gamboll'd out the night In frolic unrestrain'd : — sometimes arose, (As by strange magic of Aladdin's lamp,) A theatre, complete in all its parts, With marvellous diversity of scene And gorgeous decorations, and bright blaze Of cunningly disposed and countless lights, Embellishing the histrionic craft Of our Collegian Roscii : — nor, in sooth, Lack'd we or comic humour, or, at times, Some touch of natural pathos ; — and, if these E'er flagg'd, rich compensation still we found In our grotesque apparel : — 'twas a sight Worthy of more fastidious eyes than ours — That motley pageant of fantastic garbs Assembled in our green-room ; — boyhood's limbs Robed in the grave habiliments of age ; — The corpulent round paunch of monk or friar, — The rustic with red mass of hair unkempt, Smock frock, and scarlet hose, and nether vest Of buckskin, begg'd or borrow'd, for the nonce, E'en from the haunch of veritable clown — And, (stranger, more fantastic than all else) The garb, shape, face, and voice of womanhood, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 67 Aped by some beardless boy — his burly waist Mocking the close imprisonment of stays ; His bust by cunning artifice swoln out To feminine proportions, and his brow O'ershadow'd by profusion, rich and rare, Of borrow'd ringlets, while with mincing gait Affected, and his voice's tenor pipe Reduced to a shrill treble, he assumed The gestures of a maiden — by applause Obstreperous of the congregated crowd Not scantily rewarded. — All alike, Actors and audience, willing both to please And to be pleased, received and gave, by turns, Reciprocal enjoyment ; — well I wot None such was ever felt in Drury Lane ! And was this Eton ? — in no better lore Than this doth she instruct the ripening mind, And train the expanding heart ? — Nay, deem not so, But, in the lengthening retrospect of years, The sports and conflicts of the schoolboy world, — Its microcosmic cares, and joys, and griefs, — The daily intercourse of boy with boy, — Appear the true realities ;— all else, Which, when 'twas present, seem'd important, now Looks dim and dwindled : — even the daily task, — The weekly verses, — the whole grave routine Of studies, with their prizes and rewards, — Seem insignificant, minutest spots In memory's landscape, which the limner's touch 68 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Passes unnoticed. — Yet, among- my peers, (Albeit no sleepless student,) I enjoy 'd A scholar's reputation, nor disdain'd The accomplishment of verse ; — and now, me- thinks, Amidst those preludings of boyish thought And those young classic studies, I discern The germs of much, which, growing" with my growth, And strengthen'd with my strength, hath since become A portion of my Being*. — If my song* Hath ever found its way to gentle hearts, — 'Twas by the nurture and developement Of dormant powers, then first and only found, That its wild notes were fashion'd to express A natural tenderness. — To me, no tale Of martial prowess, or renown'd exploit, By poet or historian told of yore, Was e'er attractive ; — little, in my heart, Responded to the burst of trumpet blast, Or host with host conflicting ; — but I loved ('Twas the first poetry I ever felt) That ode of Horace, which relates the doom Of Hypermnestra, daring bonds and death, For her young bride-groom's sake, — and Ovid's tale Of grief domestic, that heart-breaking night Appointed for his exile : — I admired, With most intense and earnest sympathy, Alcestis' self-devotion, and rejoiced THE DREAM OF LIFE. 69 With an exceeding" joy, when Hercules Restored her from the grave to life and bliss And his embraces for whose sake she died. Among such images of household love My fancy fondly revell'd, and my heart Responded to my fancy. — I ne'er form'd An abstract scheme of bliss, which was not based On the calm comfort of a home and hearth Surrounded by bright faces rich with love Connubial and parental. — Bounteous Heaven, Exceeding whatsoever hope pourtray'd, Or young imagination fondly dream'd, Hath given me more than all my boyish heart E'er sigh'd for. — Fancy's picture-world is now To me less glorious than reality. But my brain teems with spectral forms of thought Evoked from sleep sepulchral — long withdrawn From the mind's eye, but unforgotten still And fresh as heretofore. — I must perforce Disperse the wildering vision. — Fair retreat, — Thou cradle of my boyish phantasy, — Farewell ! — with deep and undiminished love I cherish thy remembrance, and rejoice That o'er thy courts a brighter day hath risen Than my young eyes beheld ; — for thou hast felt The impulse of the spirit now awake In the deep bosom of thy mother Church, And, strong in thy re-animated faith, Art, as I trust, become a schoolmistress /<> THE DREAM OF LIFE. To bring young hearts to Christ. — Beneath thy towers Religion, long obscured, once more uplifts Her venerable head, — not now disguised And sore degraded by low-mutter'd charm Of Latin prayers, which, with indecent haste, Impatient urchins gabbled, unreproved By teachers as impatient — but infused Into the fountains and fresh springs of thought, And mingling her pure essence with its stream, Which widens as it flows. Nor let me grieve (Though haply there be cause of real grief) For old associations, soon to pass Into the number of the things that were, — When even Long Chamber from the world's wide face Shall have been swept for ever. — Be its sins (Not few, nor venial) with its joys forgot ; And may a better generation find At least no meaner shelter where it stood ! I have a friend — almost the only one Who, from our schoolboy days to life's full noon, Hath kept his heart unchanged and true to me, Though many a year hath past since last we met, And more may pass before we meet again ; — One friend— almost one only — faithful found. To him, in distant vales a sojourner, Far in the pleasant south, I now commend (What to my children hath already been With dedication more express consign'd) THE DREAM OF LIFE. 71 This song — brief record of those early days In which we were companions. — Different cares And sympathies have gather'd around each ; And yet I think, if e'er we meet again, We shall not feel estranged : — meanwhile to him And those who love him, though to me unknown, Be this my pledge of boyish vows unbroke, And friendship by the world as yet unchill'd. THE DREAM OF LIFE. BOOK III. YOUTH. INSCRIBED TO DERWENT COLERIDGE. The youth who daily farther from the East Must travel, still is Nature's priest, And by the vision splendid Is on his way attended. wordsworth. THE DREAM OF LIFE. BOOK III. YOUTH. With Friendship's sacred name my song* broke off;— With Friendship's sacred name shall it resume Its onward course, — not now on boyish sports, And boyish cares intent, but borne along (If from its subject it may yet receive A kindred impulse) by the swelling flood Of youthful passion through the veins diffused, And vigorous thought new-born, and hope un- quench'd By sad experience, lighting up the eye W T ith gleams which seem prophetic — and are not. Friend, whom in Granta's academic halls First met, soon loved — thenceforward to my side Fast bound by poesy's free-masonry And mutual veneration for a name To me most sacred, and by thee beloved W T ith all a son's affection — Friend, who now These more than twenty years, with thy profound And fervent spirit, hast supported mine, — Transferring whatsoe'er can be transferr'd From thy rich depths of intellectual wealth Into this lighter and more sterile soil, 76 THE DREAM 01 LIFE. Which yields but scant return; — to thee this strain, A monument to long departed youth, I consecrate : — To whom indeed on Earth If not to thee, my earliest Poet-friend, Should song- of mine be offer'd ? — Who but thou, With earnest converse and assiduous zeal Of sympathy, — neglectful of the gift On thee more richly lavish'd, — fann'd in me The spark of youthful phantasy ? — to whom, If not to thee, is due on my behalf A debt of deepest gratitude for all That, in time past, my soul hath ever felt Of hope and joy poetic ? — Small indeed The fruit of all thy culture : — those long years Of absence, during which we lived and wrought In distant vineyards, seem'd to wither up Whate'er brief promise of more healthful song Thy care had caused to germinate ; — and now, — When Providence once more hath brought us near Each to the other, — 'tis too late to call Lost seasons back : — but I have deeper debts To thee than such as these, and there are bonds More sacred, knitting fast thy heart to mine, Than even the electric chain of phantasy : — Warm sympathies cementing each with each In joys and sorrows of the world that is ; — Remembrances, now sweet, of conflicts once Most bitter, but at length with triumph crown'd, And still imparting to our noon of life Its best of earthly joys; — the mutual love THE DREAM OF LIFE. 77 Of those respectively beloved by both Beyond all else that breathes ; — and (more than all) Our hope in worlds to come — our task in this ; For we are, both, ambassadors for Christ, And thou high honour'd in His English Church Among- her theologians ; — in thyself, No meanly skill'd expounder of her creed, — Nor worthy of less honour, for that thou Interpretest the mystic mind of One, The mightiest thinker of these latter days. For such, thy late achievements — how much more Than for whate'er of high philosophy Or art poetic, in our youthful days, I from thy lips derived — am I become Thy glad and grateful debtor. — Thou alone, With stedfast gaze intent, hast well discern'd, Through all the mists of error which bedim Her heavenly features, the true spouse of Christ: — Not that stern phantom, which, on Isis banks, Enthusiasts have beheld, and in devout And abject error worshipp'd — a severe And loveless idol, from men's sympathies And craving hearts estranged, — in garb of power And terrible authority array 'd, — O'erbearing Reason's clear uplifted voice With frown dogmatic, and converting- Faith Itself into a blind credulity Most slavish and idolatrous ; — not such The vision thou hast seen, nor (falser yet) 78 THE DREAM OF LTFE. That hard-eyed spectre, by the will of man Engender'd, — altogether of the earth And earthy, — which the laws of human realms Create, and can at pleasure uncreate. Not this, — not such as this, the Church of Christ, Seen and with master hand pourtray'd by thee, — But one, who on her fair and ample brow Bears the bright impress of Divinity; — No step-dame, but a mother of brave sons With all a mother's heart, — the nurse and guide Of Faith and Reason, — of celestial Truth The guardian and the witness. — In thy page, Well reason'd, pregnant with profoundest thought, I, an unworthy student, seem to hold Communion with thy spirit afar off ; And sitting at thy feet, as I was wont In earlier days, with willing mind imbibe Instruction which makes smooth the way to death. We are alone : — none other now on Earth Shares our full bond of friendship. — One there was, Beloved by both, and who repaid our love As only natures of the purest mould Repay the love of others. — Full two years Have past since we consign'd him to the grave In life's unripen'd prime, — and still it seems As if we could not think of him as dead ; — The immortality which dwelt in him So swallow'd up the mortal. — Yet 'tis true, "The good die first;" and his celestial part Was purged so nearly of all earth's alloy, THE DREAM OF LIFE. That 'twere, in us, most selfish to have wish'd That he would tarry in our homes of clay. Vet few there were, perchance, but thou and I, And one, — his own by more especial ties, — One fondlier cherish'd in his heart of hearts, — Few but we three, who knew the wondrous depths Of that mysterious spirit. — To the world He veil'd, beneath a smooth and smiling brow. Its fathomless abyss, — with flippant jest, And poignant sarcasm, and sly equivoque, And many a coruscation, bright though brief, Of wit, and humour more akin than wit To genius — drawing off intrusive eyes From that intensity of human love And that most deep and tender sympathy Close guarded in the chambers of his heart. His generation knew him not ; — he seem'd To worldly men a trifler, — and when years, Correcting the rash fervour of his youth, Taught him to honour much which once he scorn d. And guard what he had panted to o'erthrow — Men deem'd such seeming fickleness the fruit Of falsehood or caprice, and factious tongues Were busy to defame him : — he, meanwhile, Through honour and dishonour, through report Evil and good, — by rash, misjudging men Accounted a deceiver, though most true And strong in his integrity, — maintain'd His course unalter'd, and in vain assail'd By obloquy and slander. — Death hath nipp'd 80 THE DREAM OF LIFE. His promise in the bud, or he had rank'd Among our noblest statesmen, and perchance Proved to the Church, in this distracted realm, Her ablest champion in her utmost need. As such let Her bewail him ! — but to us He leaves a deeper sorrow : — Can that hour E'er pass away from memory, when we two With that highminded lady, hand in hand Knelt by his coffin, till her deeper grief At last found vent in tears, and we conversed Of him, and what he was, and what he is, In words of solemn calmness ? — or that morn, When, one by one, into the room of death, Hung- with funereal black, the mourners stole, — - A sad and silent crowd, by various ties, Public and private, join'd to him in life, — All grieving for him dead. — The statesman there Forgot the war of factions, nor refused To his untimely loss some natural tears ; — The pale-eyed scholar side by side was seen With men of wordy strife, who for a day Suspended their forensic rivalries To weep upon his grave ; — the merchant left His counting-house, — and friends who had not met For many a year before, met there to mourn A nobler friend than all. — She too, his own — His almost more than wife, (if more there be In this cold world,) regardless of the laws Of tyrant custom, came with tearless eye And brow erect, though pale almost as his, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 81 To give him to the grave : — through busy streets Slowly and sadly moved the funeral train, Until within the cemetery gates At length it halted, and the solemn words Of our sublimest ritual rendered back Dust to its dust — the spirit to the hands Of Him who gave it : — painful to the ear Was that dull, grinding, subterraneous sound Of some unseen machinery, which, with slow Scarce visible descent, received the Dead Into the opening bosom of the earth ; And deep the desolation which oppress'd Our spirits — the dejection which we felt, When we (the three who loved and mourn' d him most) Together bent our steps into the vault To bid our last farewell. — Between lon°: rows Of dead, each coffin'd in its separate niche, Tier above tier — a subterranean vault Of sepulchres — we walk'd, until we came To his dark narrow home ; — the charnel gusts Smote close and chill, — our tread, with hollow sound, Fell echoing, till (the wholesome upper air And cheerful light of day once more regain'd) With aching hearts we parted, to renew Our troubled Dream of Life. A dream indeed, — A feverish waking dream — more shadowy still The longer that it lasts ! — Whate'er in youth 2 G 82 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Seem'd real, ere our middle age arrives, Even like a phantom vanishes away, Or crumbles in our grasp. — Our life itself — Which once appear'd as if 'twould never end — Is found to be a shadow, soon to flit Away, and be forgotten; — even the schemes — The air-built castles of our early days — That vigorous hope with which we look'd abroad Into the opening world — that confidence In the bright-seeming future, by no fear Of change or chance diminish'd — were in truth More tangible possessions in themselves Than the realities of later life, And such were thine and mine when first we met (A freshman thou, and I a junior soph,) In the Old Court at King's. Unlike, till then, Had been our several nurtures, each to each ; Thou, from thy birth, a hardy mountaineer, A poet's child, thyself a Poet born, And cradled among minds of giant mould, Hadst, almost with my mother's milk, imbibed Philosophy, which with thy growth had grown, And with thy strength been strengthen'd :— in the north — A wanderer among lakes and mighty hills — Scarce conscious e'en of such restraint as curbs The southern schoolboy— thou hadst kept unstain'd Thy sturdy freshness and simplicity ; And, in thy native strength of intellect, O'erleaping the strait bounds of puny thought THE DREAM OF LIFE. 83 Which circumscribed the realm in which we moved, (Weak jinglers of hexameters,) could'st breathe In worlds beyond our ken; — I, train'd and taught In academic craft, and, for my feats Poetic, with Etonian laurel crown'd — A schoolboy bard, with schoolboy lore imbued, And thinking like a schoolboy — what was I, That I should match with thee ?— yet match'd we were, If not in genius, yet in sympathy ; Each reverencing what the other reverenced — each Still loving whatsoe'er the other loved ; Our hopes, our aspirations, our desires, Our plans and projects for the years to come, Akin, if not identical : — the world As yet was all before us — the young blood Ran riot in our veins, — we felt our life Strong, buoyant, full of hope — and we were free To " frame" whate'er " high purposes" we would Of intellectual enterprise, " at war With fleshly shame ;" — so sang thy muse to mine, Who tuned her chords responsive. — What more blest Could either of us wish, than to pursue Together the green paths of poesy, And cultivate the fair domains of thought Which nature had assign'd us ? Of renown And rank among our country's sons of song Methinks we dream'd but little : — fame was not Our idol, nor the prize for which we strove. 84 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Our phantasy should be its own reward ; Or if we needed other, that should be The love of woman : — we would pitch our tent In some sequester'd valley, and there dwell — We and two gentle beings, who would link Their lot with ours, and in our arms repose, And, with serene and fervent sympathy Sharing and sweetening all our toils and cares, Diffuse perpetual sunshine through our souls, Which, by that warmth impregnated, should teem With most abundant growth of noble thoughts And lofty speculations, and rich store Of sweet and bitter fancies. — Dreams like these At times beguiled us, but our daily talk Was of more serious matter ; — of the laws Which govern the mysterious heart of man ; — Of dogmas transcendental, to my ear A theme, till then unknown, though long to thee Familiar, and with earnest zeal explored ; — Of all the wild and wondrous world of song, And those who hold its empire — chiefly Him The myriad-minded ; — nor were they forgot, The mighty masters of our later day, And Him their Coryphaeus, then not yet Enthroned, as now, on England's inmost heart, But by a few (the true poetic Church, As they esteem'd themselves) with earnest zeal And somewhat of a fond idolatry Revered, nay, almost worshipp'd. — With such themes THE DREAM OF LIFE. 85 Were mingled yet profounder ; — Truth divine Reveal'd to erring man — Redemptive love, In all its breadth, and length, and depth, and height, By thee with theologic gaze intent Contemplated ; — and if from the routine Of academic study we diverged Too oft, and were forgetful of the claims Of curves and squares, and parallelograms, Cones, angles, sines and cosines, ordinates, Abscissae, and the like — methinks, our time, Though sore mispent, was yet not wholly lost In converse such as this. Not wholly lost — And yet my loss was grievous ; — not perchance So much for the amount of actual lore Neglected, or of science unattain'd, As for the loss of discipline incurr'd, Moral and intellectual, — self-control, And self-denial, — patience in pursuit Of knowledge, — perseverance to surmount Impediments — and firmness to withstand Temptation, unacquired. — If I am now Too much an idler — prone to leave undone My daily task of ministerial toil, And loiter in my study o'er some page Of theologic trifling — or forsake Even that for lighter reading such as charm'd My young imagination — to those strolls In part I owe it, which, from day to day, 86 THE DREAM OF LIFE. We two were wont to take, in hours by right To academic study set apart. Pleasant they were, and pleasant was the talk By which they were beguiled ; — to me oft rich In knowledge newly gain'd. — We walk'd and walk'd As chance directed — by the river side To Granchester — along the lanes which lead To Cherry Hinton — out by Trumpington — And Madingley, sole village from the plague Of ugliness, in that drear land, exempt : The Gogmagogs were conscious of our talk ; And I may say that seldom I came home No wiser than I went. — But in the days Of early spring, when even those treeless fields Look'd pleasant in the sunshine, and the lanes With constellations of bright primrose tufts Were here and there bestudded, — when the scent Of the cinque-spotted cowslip was exhaled From the low meadow grass,— and in the woods The nightingale (more fitly heard by night) Sang lustily all day — with what a bound Of vernal exultation forth we sprang Into the clear, fresh air ! — how recklessly, Spurning the narrow bounds of space and time, We rambled in the ways of our own hearts And sight of our own eyes ! — with what dispatch Of keen and craving hunger, we assail'd Our mid-day luncheon in the village inn, Served haply hy the fair domestic hands THE DREAM OF LIFE. 87 Of her, the maid of Quy — that saint whose shrine By many a Cantabrigian pilgrimage, (By none more zealous or more pure than ours) Was, in those days, frequented ! — then at eve, As, homeward bound, through the suburban streets We wended in grotesque and careless guise— The very tassels of our trencher caps With cowslips interlaced, — how cheap we held The laughter of the mob ! — how little fear'd The frown of Dean or Proctor ! — then our meal Together shared, — the savoury steak sent hot From the cook's shop— the amber-flowing ale Of Trinity, — the spare dessert, — the wine With olives relish'd— and our day's discourse Prolong'd till midnight ! — College life alone Can boast such joys as these. Nor let me pass Unsung, those nights and suppers of the gods — Feasts of the hungry soul, when, at the close Of some well argued, eloquent debate Held in the " Union," which with lengthen'd roar Of cheers had shaken Petty Cury's roofs, Startling the jaded shopman from his sleep, — The leaders of the war on either side, (Their strife suspended) to my neighbouring rooms Adjourn'd, to sup on oysters. — Aid me now, O Muse, to tell who first, who last engaged In those keen conflicts of contending wit And appetite as keen ; — who (since renown'd In senatorial or forensic war) «8 THE DREAM OF LIFE. From their first proof and exercise of arms Offensive and defensive, came to wield Less cumbrous weapons in colloquial sport, At those repasts, with us. First, He whose praise This song already, though in feeble notes, Unworthily, hath sung — he, then a youth Fresh from Etonian discipline, well skill'd In all her classic craft, and therewithal Known, ere his sun in Granta's sky arose, For many a boyish feat, unlike a boy's, Of sparkling prose and verse, — he graced our board With that rich vein of fine and subtle wit — That tone of reckless levity — that keen And polish'd sarcasm— arm'd with which he waged A war of dexterous sword-play, wherein few Encounter'd, none o'ercame him : — by his side Sat One of ampler brow and ruder frame, — A presence with gigantic power instinct, Though outwardly, in truth, but little graced With aught of manly beauty — short, obese, Rough -featured, coarse complexion'd, with lank hair, And small grey eyes, — in face (so many said) Not much unlike myself, — his voice abrupt, Unmusical ; — yet, when he spake, the ear Was charm'd into attention, and the eye Forgot the visible and outward frame Of the rich mind within ; with such swift flow Of full, spontaneous utterance, the tongue Interpreted the deep impassion'd thought, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 89 And pour'd upon our sense exhaustless store Of multifarious learning; — for his mind Had been, from earliest childhood up to youth, Insatiable of knowledge, and his brain, — Not like a pedant's, cumber'd and confused With ill-digested, heterogeneous hoards Of intellectual matter, but endued With power to shape and mould its gather'd wealth As need suggested, — turn'd, with ready tact, Its huge artillery on whatever point It pleased him to assail,— and (sooth to say) He was not over-scrupulous ; — to him There was no pain like silence — no constraint So dull as unanimity : — he breathed An atmosphere of argument, nor shrank From making, where he could not find, excuse For controversial fight : — yet when the fit Was off him, and he gave his mind free scope To follow Nature's bidding — who so full Of genial thought and feeling ? — who so keen To separate truth from error— to detect The fallacy in specious terms involved, Or in the realms of Fiction to discern The beautiful and just? — He was, in truth, (So transcendental sages would affirm) The king of Understanding — unapproach'd, Unrivall'd in his own particular range Of thought ; — and if that range was not the first — If there were regions into which his gaze Pierced not— an intuition more profound 90 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Than he affected — such deficiency Found ample compensation in the strength And full perfection of his actual powers, And the quick tact which wielded them. — Meanwhile His heart was pure and simple as a child's, Unbreathed on by the world, — in friendship warm, Confiding, generous, constant ; and though now He ranks among the great-ones of the earth, And hath achieved such glory, as will last To future generations — he, I think, Would sup on oysters with as right good will In this poor home of mine, as e'er he did On Petty Cury's classical first floor Some twenty years ago. With him in bonds Of mutual friendship link'd — in classic lore His equal, though of less voracious maw, And slower to digest what he devour'd Of intellectual food — appear'd a youth Of comeliest presence, though of brow, perchance, Less lofty and projecting than the brain Beneath it would have taught phrenologists To look for in its owner : — grave he was, And prone to silence ; and whene'er he spake, Twas with a slow, sententious utterance, As if each word that dropp'd was first well weigh'd, And licensed to go forth ; — his manner shy And somewhat puritanical ; — yet none Possess'd a mind with richer humour fraught, Or saw, with so acute and quick a glance, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 91 The ludicrous in all things: — not in vain He woo'd the Muse — with no ungraceful steps Walk'd through the land of Fancy in its length And in its breadth ; but with more earnest love He sought profounder lore : — his mind severe, Patient, exact, with most tenacious grasp Held fast, and grappled with, and overcame Whate'er of difficult impediment Beset his path to knowledge; — nor was truth, Thus hardly won, less resolutely kept. The rash vagaries of erratic thought And venturous speculation, which seduced More sanguine minds, ne'er raised a doubt in his, Nor shook the deep foundations of his faith Even for a moment. — Now, a learned man, In professorial chair he holds his state Didactic, and with classic lore imbues Another generation. Turn we next To one but rarely, on those nights, our guest;— To him — thy kinsman, once my schoolfellow, And more than most of my compeers at school, Or thy collateral kindred, to us both By close-knit bonds united ; — in those days A comely youth, though prematurely grey, And long ere manhood's noon upon his brow To wear the stainless silver of old age. Graceful he was in person and in mind, Enrich'd with classical accomplishments, And stores of various study — apt to learn, 92 THE DREAM OF LIFE. And with intense susceptibility Of soul and sense endued. Some deem'd him proud, And in himself too confident. — In truth, 'Twas not his nature to dissemble powers With which he had been gifted, nor the lore To which he had attain'd ; and envious men, Who hated him for both, were prompt to blame That which they could not imitate : — yet few Were cast by nature in a finer mould, Or arm'd with apprehensions more acute, And exquisite of beauty and of truth, Moral and intellectual. To create Was not his province ; but his mind received, And treasured, and retain'd, with ready tact, The lessons by profounder minds instill'd, W T hich, with expressive utterance, to the taste And apprehensions of the world at large He skilfully adapted. — Hence his task Was rightly chosen, when, in after years, He to the teaching of that Master Mind Subjected his whole soul — content to share The glory which must rest, in time to come, On those outpourings of immortal thought By his sole pen preserved, or by his toil Collected and arranged. His was, in truth, A proud and happy lot, to have imbibed Those lessons, while he lived, and after death To link his own remembrance with the name Of Earth's profoundest Teacher : — happier still In that his toils were sweeten'd and sustain'd THE DREAM OF LIFE. 93 By such rich treasure of connubial wealth As few have e'er possess'd. Not mine the task To seize and fix the ethereal lineaments Of that majestic spirit, which illumed With rays intense of intellectual light, Corporeal beauty far surpassing aught That to the painter's, or the poet's eye, Imagination ever yet reveal'd Of loveliness ideal — while the heart, Unchill'd and unsophisticate, still throbb'd With woman's deepest love — still sympathized With whatsoe'er of human joy or grief Demands or merits sympathy — still shared, With unaffected, frank simplicity, The interests and the cares, the healthful sports, The mingled smiles and tears, which mark the course Of ordinary life — suggesting thus, To the discerning and observant mind, How far inventive phantasy falls short Of Nature's actual handiwork ! — not now — Not in such strains as these, be her high praise Attempted ; — nor let step of mine invade, With reckless tread, the still, sepulchral gloom Which shrouds her recent sorrow.— For the Dead — For Him, the gentle and the pure of heart, The generous, the affectionate — from Earth At life's full noon removed-^-for him, be tears Of true and reverential sorrow shed ! — For Her — what more can sympathy desire Than those divinest gifts already hers ? — 94 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Patience and faith to bear the will of Heaven, And power, while yet on earth, to breathe in worlds Of pure celestial thought, and cheering hope Of future bliss, and memory of the Past, To soothe the o'erburden'd Present. Next appear'd, In that superb array of noble minds, A pale, spare man, of high and massive brow, Already furrow'd with deep lines of thought And speculative effort — grave, sedate, And (if the looks may indicate the age) Our senior some few years : — no keener wit, No intellect more subtle, none more bold Was found in all our host ; none deeplier fraught With stores of various learning ; — but, in him, Imagination, fancy, feeling, taste, And reverential faith and fervent zeal Were overlaid by huge incumbent weight Of understanding — so, of late, defined — The faculty which judgeth after sense. With poesy and poets still he waged Relentless war — deeming all such, in sooth, Mere cumberers of the ground, or haply worse— Despisers of plain truth — mad mountebanks, Who led the minds of simple folk astray By their fantastic juggleries, and drown'd The voice of reason with their jingling rhymes. Such craft to him was hateful ; — Truth alone, Truth tangible and palpable; — such truth As might be weigh'd and measured, — truth deduced THE DREAM OF LIFE. 95 By logical conclusion, close, severe, From premises incontrovertible — This was the mistress of his fond desire — His first, his only love ; — of aught more fair Or wonderful he dream'd not ; — nought to him Existed, in the whole wide world of thought, Save what could be defined, mapp'd out, survey 'd, Adjusted to his liking; — to his eye, Whatever was ideal, seem'd untrue : The hopes which he profess'd of earthly good Were limited to that which he could see, Hear, taste, or feel — ease — pleasure — all the joys Which wait on wealth — the exercise and use Of intellect : — in all things he appear'd A strict utilitarian ; — yet the Man Was nobler than his creed, and though he mock'd At things, which, to us poets, seem'd almost The breath of human life — romantic love — Chivalrous honour — patriotic zeal — And loyal self-devotion — there were times When even these very themes would kindle up The better soul within, and he became, Unconsciously, the enthusiast he despised. Courteous he was and gentle, even to those Whose intellectual rank beneath his own Lay lowest, — and remembrance, looking back Through twenty years, still rests upon his name, As on a pleasant thought. Unlike him far In character — in intellect no less, 96 THE DREAM OF LIFE. The pair that follows ; for a pair in heart So closely join'd, so comely each in form, My song must not divorce ; — the first, a youth, Tall, graceful, well-proportion'd, noble-mien'd, Tho' something in his air might have been thought Almost effeminate, — the look of one Who, delicately nurtured, ne'er had felt The shocks and buffets which the world inflicts Even on our boyish years ; — and such, indeed, Had been his earlier lot, for he w^as born Heir of a wealthy house, and, from his birth To dawning manhood, in luxurious ease And careless affluence rear'd ; — his mind untrain'd By any rigorous discipline — unstored With much of school-boy learning — ill prepared (So men might think) to face the frowning world And grapple with adversity ; — and yet, When fortune changed — as in a moment's time She did, and hurl'd him from his pinnacle Of prosperous expectation down almost To a despised estate — no strongest mind E'er bore such fall more bravely : — even like one Who estimates this world at its true worth, And, loving not its treasures while they last, Laments them not departed — he address'd His spirit to its destiny with firm And tranquil equanimity — content To do and suffer all the will of Heaven In his appointed sphere. — And, to speak truth, Tho' wealth and this world's smiles had pass'd away, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 97 Still, in the costliest treasure Earth can yield, He was most rich ; — for one confiding- heart Still clave to him with woman's deepest love, And pour'd into his wounds (if wounds he had) The balm of its affection. She was one — (That gentle maid) — a foreigner by birth, Of humbler fortunes, who had loved him long, But never told her love ; for while the world Look'd bright around him, and the proudest dames Grew prouder in his smile, she durst not lift Her heart so high as to indulge a hope That he would think of her ; but when his lot Was darken'd, and the frivolous, false crowd Deserted him — then what rapturous hope Thrill'd through her bosom, that his loss might prove Her gain, — and she, who never could have shared His prouder, might console his humbler lot, And shed upon his path the tender light Of her devoted love ! Ere I threw off The purple gown of Trinity, to don The graduate's sable garb, their wedding day Arrived, and I remember how they came, A happy bride and bridegroom, to rebuke In our own courts, or haply to stir up To emulation of their better lot Our Academic celibate. But He— The friend so like a brother — in what nook Lies he conceal'd ? — he should not be ashamed. 98 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Methinks, to shew his face ; for few have seen A fairer one on earth ; — the Nireus he Of all our host, though rarely in this field A combatant, — no man of wordy strife, Or wrangling- disputation, but best pleased With mild discourse and thought contemplative, And the luxurious witcheries of art : — Himself a poet born, and, from a child, With all a poet's sensibilities, Even to excess endued : — for him, a boy, The boisterous sports of boyhood were too rough,— The sympathy of schoolfellows too coarse, Save of some few like-minded with himself, With whom he roam'd apart — to all the rest A by-word and a laughing-stock ; — now climb'd Some favourite hill — now ranged the vernal woods In search of wild-flowers. — With advancing youth Such weakness had worn off, and though he still Retain'd a woman's beauty, manly thought Was his, and manly feeling. — Still the paths Of quiet contemplation — the wild haunts Of phantasy — and the mysterious realms Of painting and of music were his choice, — The world in which his spirit loved to dwell ; And, I believe, no truer eye than his, No finer ear for concord of sweet sounds, No spirit more susceptible of pain Or pleasure from the spells of either art, Or their diviner sister Poesy, Was found, that day, among us. Years have since THE DREAM OF LIFE. 99 Develop'd, and expanded, and matured His intellectual strength : — through many a field Of art, of science, of philosophy, With firm and fearless step, he walks at will ; A bold, adventurous thinker, but withal In heart and hope a Christian. Last appears In this long muster-roll, One o'er whose mind Majestic, deep, imaginative, pure From aught of worldly taint, which might debase Or mar its noble energies, the Muse Laments as lost ; — by what mysterious bane Of physical or mental malady Disorder'd, none can tell ; but so o'erthrown, That genius, learning, wisdom, the rich gift Of song, on none, in these our later days, More bountifully lavish'd, have, in him, Become a shapeless wreck — May brighter days Arise on that dark waste, and heavenly light, Piercing its spectral gloom, create anew The wondrous world beneath it ! But 'tis time To change this lengthen'd scene, and bid farewell To all its passing phantoms, though the mind Still grasps them with a fond tenacity. Not all in vain, — not all in vain, — I trust, O Granta, though thy wild and wayward son, And little heedful of the lore which thou Best lov'st to teach thy children — not in vain Spent I the spring and seed-time of my youth 100 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Beneath thy reverend towers ; — no slender gain I count it to have known whom I have known, And with the noblest spirits of my day Beheld the dawn of manhood ; — not ill timed My sojourn in thy courts — for 'twas my lot To know a generation nobler far Than that which went before it — more athirst For knowledge — more intent on loftiest schemes And purposes of good — and if more prone To daring speculation, — apt to tread More venturous paths — yet purer from the stain Of gross and sensual vice — which among those, Our predecessors in the steep ascent Of academic honour, still had been, Too oft, allied with genius. Twas the note And token of a scholar, in their day, To be a jocund reveller, — to spend The night in mad carousals — then, perchance, (The wineflush still upon the burning brow,) To reel into the lecture-room ; — not such Our folly — though our follies were not few, Nor all innocuous — for the springs of thought Had then been newly stirr'd — and Truth, who since Hath claim'd and won her old supremacy, Was still at war with error, not, as now, Unveil'd and understood. The scene is changed ; The towers and courts of Granta disappear With all that they contain— and lo, instead, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 101 Green trees, and spacious lawns, and shrubbery- walks Umbrageous, amidst which is dimly seen A shelter'd dwelling, with thick-clustering vine And intermingled ivy overgrown. In front, not two miles off, majestic spires Shoot up their tapering outline ; — on the left A castle frowns, with massive towers antique Cresting a gentle eminence ; — hard by The Severn, scarce yet navigable, rolls Its waters— and blue undulating hills Sweep round the dim horizon. — Tis a scene On which a poet's eye may rest well pleased ; Nor lacks it such inspection — From yon house Even now two youthful brethren of the lyre Look forth, and in their intervals of rest From toil (if toil it be to court the Muse,) Refresh their sense of beauty on that rich And boldly varied landscape. — We have met That pair before ; — what do they in this land? — In truth they do but little — though withdrawn Awhile from academic conflicts dire To this, the calm sequester'd home of one, With high intent and purpose to devote The livelong summer to sublime pursuit Of science mathematical. — And now In separate, though adjacent, rooms immured, Each on his own peculiar task intent, They commune with Mathesis. — Is it so ? Then hath she brought her geometric craft 102 THE DREAM OF LIFE. To marvellous perfection — hath contrived To measure worlds that spread beyond all space; — Hath spann'd Imagination's boundless realm, And ascertain'd the laws, impell'd by which Creative thought explores its wondrous way Even to the Heaven of Heavens. — In those two rooms Two worlds are now contain'd — two phantom worlds , Diverse in kind and excellence, but each A world of beauty, — each a pleasant home For him whose fancy framed it, (like the web Spun by the silk- worm,) to protect and house His spirit from the pressure of the world. Hifrh is the theme of one : — in burnino- strains He sings ideal Beauty, to his soul Reveal'd in trance-like vision ; — her he seeks, In passionate wild flight, through all the realms Of earth, and air, and sea — and, having found, Leads her through fairy palaces — prepares A home, and spreads a couch for her, amidst The pathless clouds, beneath the green sea waves, In woody vales, and deep secluded glens — Infusing still into her heart of hearts The strong enchantment of his dreamy love. The other, less ambitious, and endued With genius less creative, less intense, Hath, from the beaming regions of the East Stolen a wild-hearted Fay, with whom, at will, He wanders through the world from night to morn. And in her mischievous and magic feats Finds infinite amusement ; — yet his song, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 103 Now gay, and now sarcastic — now in bursts Of broad rough humour recklessly let loose — Prefers to linger in the quiet haunts Of peace and love domestic — knows no world, In all Imagination's universe, So blessed as a bright and blazing hearth Surrounded by glad faces : — joyously Those two, careering on the wings of song, Pursue their several paths, from time to time Relaxing their swift flight, to interchange Encouragement and counsel, each with each. Nor lack they recreation, such as soothes The brain o'erwrought with toil, or by the throng Of fancies multitudinous inflamed To over-much excitement — gentle looks And voices, and the pleasant intercourse Of brothers and of sisters, shelter'd still Beneath that roof parental, and the joy Sedate, although expectant, calm, yet deep, Of plighted lovers, at the altar soon To seal their mutual vows :— what lack they more ? — That, without which, even Poesy and youth Are cold and lifeless — the first dream of love : Nor shall that long be wanting ; — while we gaze, The scene is changed ; — they wander side by side, Each with a bright-eyed girl — one ample brow'd And eagle-eyed — the other light of heart And simple-minded ; — let them dream their dream, Their short-lived dream of passion, while it lasts : For theirs, in very deed, is but dream-love : 104 THE DREAM OF LIEE. Not of the heart and will, but of the brain ; — Fantastic, fleeting, which shall pass away Ere long, and leave the spirit all unchanged, The fountains of affection undisturb'd, And fresh as ever : — let them dream their dream, Till dawn dispel the illusion : — Nobler love Awaits them, when the fancies and wild freaks Of youth shall have been tamed by the approach Of sober manhood, and connubial bliss — Calm, deep, contented, with life's daily toil And duty intermix'd — shall put to flight Those phantoms of unripe and restless thought ; For each, amidst the tumult and turmoil Of worldly and unworldly cares and aims, Erecting a sure refuge, housed wherein The heart may take its rest, and gather strength To bear its daily burden, and fulfil, As best it may, the daily task imposed By love divine on Man, that he, on Earth, May win the crown which he shall wear in Heaven. THE DREAM OF LIFE. BOOK IV. MANHOOD. INSCRIBED TO MY WIFE. At length the Man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of common day. WORDSWORTH. THE DREAM OF LIFE. BOOK IV. MANHOOD. It is a shameless thing-, when poets chaunt The praises of their wives ! — so some aver, Whose judgment I dispute not— rather own My full assent, albeit in this respect Myself an old offender. — Hymen's bonds, And that most deep contentment of chaste love Within their magic links enclosed and bound, Are holier things than that a man should sport With them, as with the gay fantastic gawds Of wanton gallantry, or to the gaze Of public curiosity, with rude And reckless hand, unveil them. — The whole world Hath scarce a coarser spectacle to show, Than your fond, foolish, amorous wedded pair Betraying to all eyes, by act and look, The giddy transports of their honey moon ! From such may we for ever dwell apart, Bride of my youth, and now, in middle age, Ten thousand-fold beyond a bride beloved, — My own true-hearted wife !— no sympathy, And slender toleration can we yield 108 THE DREAM OF LIFE. To such transgressors of love's holy laws, To such profaners of pure Hymen's bliss. Yet, not the less, must I inscribe to thee This portion of my song, design'd to tell Of manhood's sober cares and temperate joys, Its sorrows, and their solaces ; — for thou Art still the centre around which revolve My earthly hopes and fears — to which converge My yearnings and affections : — there is nought Within the compass of my daily life, But takes, in part, its character and form From thy pervading influence ; — nor now Is this a bridegroom's fondness ; — sixteen years Have spent their noiseless flight since, each to each, We pledged our nuptial faith. — Our eldest boy Hath almost reach'd his teens, which were, in thee, Still incomplete, when thou becam'st a wife ; And, in the full meridian of Life's day, A staid and sober pair, we now look back To the gay freaks and follies of our youth, And forward to the late decline of years, As worlds which have been and which are to be — Diverse alike in form from that which is : — The first remote and dwindling, day by day, In the still lengthening retrospect — the last Just looming through the mists of unknown Time, And daily seen less distant, less unlike The swiftly changing Present. Years have laid A gentle hand on thee ; — not I alone, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 109 But all who knew thee in the days long past, Still recognize, unchanged in face or form, The bride of gay nineteen : — scarce, here and there, Amidst the clusters of thy raven curls, Close-peering eyes may trace a silver streak Threading their ebon gloss ; — thy full dark eye Is yet undimm'd and lustrous, and thy form Sylphlike, as when the brisk and tingling-blood Of eighteen summers coursed along thy veins, And thou, amidst our graver English girls, In pride and strength of Scottish art elate, Wast foremost in the dance. — In ruder sort, Yet not ungently, Time hath dealt with me — Working perchance but little outward change, For I, since earliest youth, have look'd so old, I scarce look older now ; — but, as my years Cross their meridian, I discern and feel The wane of life within : — the reckless strength And confidence of health, which knew no change, Are gone for ever : — Death appears no more A dim and distant phantom — nor this world, With all its charms for ear, and eye, and heart. The permanent abode which once it seem'd. My old acquaintance, Asthma, pays me still His annual visit — but not now alone ; — With him his daughter, pale Dyspepsia, comes, And shows me, in her train, approaching fast, Gout and his grimmer brother, her twin sons More hideous than their parent ! — It may be That thou, ere long, wilt have to nurse and tend HO THE DREAM OF LIFE. With all the patience of thy Woman's love, A fractious invalid ; — and thou wilt do That office nobly, though with small return Of gratitude, perchance, from thy self-will'd And all too froward charge. — But we will not Anticipate, in thought, impending ills : Rather, while health suffices, let me seize And fix, if that may be, the form and hue Of this existing Present, which, ere long, Must swell the increasing Past, and be, with it, From memory's page erased, unless the Muse Shall, in ambrosial song, embalm it now, And cause it to become, to me and mine, An heritage for ever. I described, Of late, how poets, in their lusty youth, Sport with the world of Phantasy : — such sport In me was past its height, and had begun To sadden into toil and daily care, And all the unblest anxieties of life, When thou and I firstmet : — younglove's first dream (A dream indeed, unreal, shadowy, brief,) Was done and ended — and my heart, so far, Not much the worse for wear : — a heavier blow Had done it deeper mischief; — Friendship's bonds, Holy and pure as e'er bound heart to heart, Had, in the rash and headstrong war of thought — The conflict of opinions, old and new, — Been snapp'd, as seem'd, for ever. — I had lost A mistress, and a friend — and in the void THE DREAM OF LIFE. Ill Of objectless affection, sought in vain For sympathy and solace — yet even then Was not forsaken wholly : — I had kept, Though not unscathed, the faith and hope in which I had been nurtured, and although not yet, By ordination and its solemn vows, Expressly set apart to be a priest And steward of the mysteries of Christ, Was storing knowledge, and, with studious thought, Preparing to devote my after life To that high office ;— Youth, and youth's wild dreams, Gorgeous and gloomy, sorrowful and gay, Were fading in the clear and sober light Of ripening manhood, and the world become A working place for me. — Then 'twas that thou Didst rise, a prosperous star, upon my path, Discern'd at once among the sparkling throng Of more ignoble fires — discern'd and loved, And by the Muse's aid (who never yet Did bard more blessed service) woo'd and won. Not smooth, nor altogether unbeset By trouble or perplexity, to us Was true love's course ; — we shared the common lot Of such as deem that life is more than meat, The body more than raiment, and the mind, With its inborn capacities of bliss, Than all the wealth of this world. — Yet, in truth, Our conflict with adversity was short, Though stubborn while it lasted — and, that done, Sweet were the days of courtship, — fair the haunts 112 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Through which we wander'd, a wild-hearted pair, Framing our pleasant plans of future life, Its duties and employments. O'er our heads, The forest oaks of Windsor interlaced Their dark umbrageous branches, as we roam'd Through many a brake and dell and bosky bourn, Arm link'd in arm, — or, on our gallant steeds, With fleet and fearless gallop, plunged amain Into the forest's heart. — Along the marge Of that majestic river, dear to me From boyhood, as to thee romantic Doon — Through Datchet's fabled mead — beyond that grey And ivy-mantled tower, sole relic left Of what was Upton Church — across the lane Misnamed of cut-throats, — o'er that well-known stile Where first our faith was pledged, (supplanted since By a trim upstart lodge) — thence through the fields Of Eton, with remembrances intense Of early joy and sorrow in my heart Indissolubly link'd, — we roam'd and roam'd ; While thou, with patient ear, to many a tale Of boyhood, by those well-known scenes recall'd, Didst listen, and in turn, with earnest speech, Discourse of all that thou hadst known and loved In thy own mountain land. So pass'd the months — The pleasant months of courtship, till, at length, The Day of days arrived, for many a year With fond anticipation imaged forth To Hope's keen earnest gaze — Life's crowning day, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 113 The blest fulfilment of the purest dreams On which young- Fancy feeds. — Without a cloud, Calm, clear, serene, the summer's loveliest child, (A summer such as England seldom knows,) It rose, and shone, and set ! — Before the lark I left the lonely couch of my unrest, And to the river's bank, as I was wont, But in for other than my wonted mood, Directed my wild steps : — the clear cold stream Received me in its bosom, cooling- thus The fever of my own ; — with practised arms I clave the waters, and from shore to shore Cross'd and recross'd ,— no w striving- with the stream , Which mock'd and overbore my puny strength, — Now floating- down its current, — now supine On the smooth surface of some tranquil pool, With face upturn'd to the blue, cloudless sky, Lay gazing on its beauty, and inhaled The freshness and the fragrance of the morn From air, and earth, and water, — to myself Repeating oft " It is my wedding day ! — No dream, but a reality !" And now The hour was come ; — before the altar-rails We two stood side by side ; — the solemn vows W T ere utter'd,— and I wonder'd, while we knelt, That I should feel so calm ! — The wedding peal Rang briskly out, — around the well-spread board The wedding guests assembled, — all due rites Were decently perform'd, — and, ere 'twas noon, (Friends,kinsfolk,feasters,bridemaids, thy old home 21 114 THE DREAM OF LIFE. And all who dwelt within it left behind) We were alone, and with our faces set Toward Cambria's mountain region. — Till 'twas eve, Conversing in such sort as lovers use, We journey'd ; — then above the horizon rose The towers of Oxford — spire and pinnacle, And stately dome, and cupola, relieved In outline clear against the cloudless sky With sunset tints suffused. — Our hasty meal Dispatch 'd — till twilight faded into night, We roam'd amidst those silent palaces : — Through broad and spacious courts, deserted then, Nor echoing to the students' sober tread, Nor (as sometimes) by bacchanalian roar Of revellers profaned — through long arcades, And many a pillar'd aisle, and cloister dim, We stroll'd, and mark'd the moonbeams, as they stole Through gorgeous panes of stain'd and storied glass, Gild the rich fretted roofs and marble floors Of those time-hallow'd temples. — On our hearts The spirit of the place descended, calm And solemn, and the day which rose in smiles Accordant to our sunbright morn of hope And hymeneal gladness, closed at last (Meet emblem of a Christian life's decline) In contemplations tranquil and serene, Of life, of death, and of eternity. And we were wedded !— and life's young romance THE DREAM OF LIFE. 115 Henceforth to fade away and be dissolved In the clear daylight of reality ! Yet, for the space of some three years, or more, The vision seem'd to tarry : — household cares So Jong we knew not, nor the pleasant sound Of children's voices, nor had yet commenced Those pastoral duties, amidst which hath past, Since then, the prime of life : — my daily task Employ 'd, but not oppress'd me, nor engross'd So large a space of time but more remain'd For pleasant studies and amusements, such As we might share together : — Life was still Almost a constant holiday to us ; And when the waning summer set us free Even from that gentle yoke which gall'd us not, With what exultant eagerness we broke Our bondage, and, unchecked by nursery ties, Shaped our swift flight, as fancy might direct, Or old affection urge — now skimm'd the lakes And climb'd the mountains of thy native land ; Now, on green Devon's slopes, forgot the ways Of artificial life, and ^rew adepts At old Arcadian usages ; and now In deep Salopian vales, amidst the homes And habitations of my kindred, shared Familiar joys, feeding our gaze meanwhile On nature's richest beauty! — Dreamlike still, — A trance Elysian, — was our Dream of Life. It is not good that years should pass away Unburden'd by the weight of care and toil 116 THE DREAM OF LIFE. "Which is Man's lot and portion here on Earth. Those years — I mourn them not — nor wish them back, Though pleasant in the retrospect — unlike (0 how unlike !) the round of varied tasks, And duties which employ my noon of life ! — The daily load of ministerial care, — The parent's anxious toil of head and heart, — The ceaseless stir and tumult of the world ! — It is by these that men must live — in these Our Father's spirit breathes. No easier lot I covet, — only ask for heartier zeal, And strength according to my need, and faith Working by love, to do and to endure Whatever Heaven may will, till the day close, And the night come wherein no man can work. There is a little town, within short space Of England's central point, of various brick Irregularly built, nor much adorn'd By architectural craft — save that, indeed, As you approach it from the south, a pile Of questionable Gothic lifts its head With somewhat of a grave collegiate air, Not unbefitting what, in truth, it is, — A seat of academic discipline And classic education : — at its base Stretches a broad expanse of verdant turf With stately trees bestudded — the resort Of schoolboys from their studious toil released, And bent on sport athletic : — but for this, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 117 The place might pass unnoticed — to speak truth, As insignificant a market-town As may be seen in England. Far around Extends a pastoral glade, to numerous herds Yielding abundant herbage, but ungraced By much of rural beauty — featureless, And to the poet's and the painter's eye Alike insipid ; — a wide, weary tract Of hedgerow upon hedgerow. — Hock nor hill, — Nor graceful undulation here is seen ; The very stream which waters the fat meads (Shaksperian Avon) hath not yet attain'd The breadth and beauty of his later course, But winds between his flat and reedy banks, A thin, meandering, melancholy thread Of slow, dull, slimy water: — the sole charms Of which, with truth, the unvaried landscape boasts, Are verdure and fertility : — the grass Grows freshly, and the hedgerow trees present Masses of summer foliage, with rich tints Diversified in Autumn : — there is nought To seek or shun, to hate or fondly love, For miles and miles around ! Amidst such scenes, The lines are fallen to me ; — amidst such scenes I own a goodly heritage — content, In the fulfilment of allotted tasks, Here, if Heaven will, to live, and here to die. Strange to the youthful minister of Christ, Yet not unmixt with pleasure, is the awe And anxious curiosity with which 118 THE DREAM OF LIFE. He first approaches his appointed sphere Of pastoral duty — first inspects the fold Of which he is the shepherd, and looks round On faces which henceforth he is to know In joy and grief, in sickness and in health, Through many a chance and change of mortal life, In many a close relation ; he meanwhile — (Though haply versed in theologic lore) — Unpractised, inexperienced in the ways Of Man's mysterious heart, — unused to guide, To comfort, to reprove, exhort, convince, Or do the thousand offices of love And Christian wisdom at his hands required, And pressing on his heart. With what keen sense Of high responsibilities, incurr'd By weakness (then, if ever, deeply felt,) He first ascends the pulpit ! — first surveys The motley congregation closely pack'd, And all intent, with curious eye and ear, To see, hear, criticise — some few to learn And welcome, with devout and docile hearts, Him, their commission'd teacher ! In their homes, And by their hospitable hearths, for him With festal fires ablaze, — at social board, Or cheerful tea-table, whence fairest hands Dispense the nectarous fluid, to his taste With nicest art adapted — each new face Arrests his anxious eye ; each voice conveys To his awaken'd and attentive ear Some token, faint perchance, of fear or hope, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 119 Of comfort or discouragement. — To whom, Among these cordial guests, in years to come, Shall he resort for counsel ? Which shall aid, With sympathy and solace pure and true, His ministerial toil — and which oppose, Impede, embarrass, — sometimes haply mar His all too feeble efforts to promote The welfare of his flock ? — Which shall be found His friend, and which his enemy? — With whom, At intervals of rest from pastoral care, Shall he take pleasant counsel, and converse On subjects which unbend, but not unnerve The else o'er-labour'd mind ? — Such thoughts, per- chance, Flit swiftly thro' his brain : — Meanwhile he knows Himself the mark of scrutinizing eyes, And curious observation : — apt remarks Are ventured — subtle questions ask'd, to probe And fathom his opinions : — " Is he Whig In Politics, or Tory ? — Orthodox In creed, or Evangelical ? — What sect Within the Church, — what party in the State, Minutely in the parish imaged forth, Shall find him its ally ? — Will he adhere To old establish'd customs, and uphold The right prescriptive of a parish priest To hunt, and shoot, and fish, and be the first In all convivial revels ? — strong at whist, And matchless at back-gammon ? — or, imbued With puritanic scruples, will he shun 120 THE DREAM OF LIFE. The world and all its pleasures — in their stead Frequenting- the resort of serious folk, Committee-rooms and platforms — where the stage And its profane excitements are eclipsed (As some aver) by oratoric feats Of reverend men, who spurn alike the rules Of grammar and the Church, and, in glib phrase, Clip the Queen's English, — worthily repaid For such achievements by the breath and bruit Of popular applause ? — Or will he prove A stern ascetic, in Tractarian lore Profoundly versed, entangling simple souls In bonds from which the Gospel sets them free — Enjoining strict observance of the round Of festivals and fasts and daily prayers, And inconvenient alms-deeds, — apt himself To fast and watch and mortify the flesh With superstitious rigour, — teaching much By precept and example, against which We must perforce contend ?" — With such profound And profitable queries, others mix Less abstract speculations — " Is he one Accessible as yet to Beauty's charms ? — A prize to be contested by the skill Of mothers and their daughters ? — the church glebe Is rich and ample, and the Parsonage (Judiciously enlarged) might well be made A comfortable mansion." — Cease, fair dames, Such musings, which the invulnerable man With grim, sly smile suspects. — In distant bowers, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 121 The lady of his love already twines Her nuptial wreath, and, ere six months have flown, The bells from yon grey tower, with deafening peal, Shall blithely welcome to their destined home The Rector and his Bride. It ill beseems The poet — him especially whose crown Of laurel must surmount the sober garb For reverend clerks appointed — to select, Amidst the present scenes of actual life, The subjects of his song. This week-day world — Its cares — its toils — its sharp anxieties — The friends and foes of living flesh and blood, With whom we sympathise and strive by turns — These to Reality's dull realm belong, And scarcely from that realm can be transferr'd To Phantasy's domain, without neglect Or partial violation of the laws Of social life. — Such fault be far from me ! Not in the Present, but the dreamy Past, And not among the Living, but the Dead — The unforgotten tenants of the grave — The men o'er whose infirmities and faults Remembrance draws a veil of shadowy haze, Which glorifies their virtues — among such Would I once more, in retrospective thought, Live over my young days of pastoral care, And interweave with this historic song Some faint reflection of departed worth And excellence still honour'd, which perchance, 122 THE DREAM OF LIFE, Not by surviving eyes unrecognized, May to surviving hearts recall a train Of pleasant recollections, nor incur Reproach or censure — rather, let me hope, Awaken kind and not unthankful thoughts Tow'rd him who, if he could, would thus embalm. In unguent mix'd of grave and serious verse, Their loved and lost on Earth. At the town's end There is a neat and unpretending house, Which you approach through a low wooden gate Beneath an arch of laurel ; — a small porch Of trellis-work, with odorous jessamine And most luxuriant clematis entwined, Shelters the expectant visitor, whose knock Is yet unanswer'd ; — a bay window, fill'd With flowering shrubs, on the left hand, admits The late effulgence of the western Sun To what, when first I knew it, long had been The favourite room of one in many a heart Still honour'd and remember'd — then my kind And hospitable host. An aged man, Already on the verge of full fourscore, Was he, and, in his youth and middle age, Had on the seas, beneath old England's flag, Fought and commanded ; but for many a year (The toils and perils of the deep foregone) Had led a quiet and secluded life In that snug dwelling, by the general voice Of friends and neighbours quaintly named, from him, THE DREAM OF LIFE. 123 "The Admiralty. " Seldom hath a heart So frank and simple dwelt within a frame So burly and gig-antic ; lustier voice Than his, on shipboard, never yet outroar'd The thunder, or was heard above the din Of battle : — he was, all in all, compact, Heart, voice, soul, sinews, bulk ; — colossal — vast, As of the race of Anak, — yet, withal As gentle as a lamb : — no kindlier smile Than his e'er beam'd on childhood— (and, in truth, He had his share of grandchildren ;) — no brow Was e'er unbent on Woman with more bland And guileless show of love ; and if his laugh Was somewhat over-boisterous, and his jest Couch'd in sea-phrase, and, like a seaman's speech, Blunt and unpolish'd, — if fastidious ears Might shrink from his sea-ditties, thunder'd forth As though a broadside roar'd — the daintiest dame Forgot such venial trespass in the sense Of that inborn benignity which glow'd And glisten'd in his look, and was diffused Through his whole soul and spirit. Him all ranks And classes loved and honour'd ; — to his house Gentle and simple, country squire and clown, Scholar and tradesman, pedagogue and peer, Each sure of his appropriate welcome, came. The nobles of the land were not ashamed To leave awhile their lordly palace halls, And spend an hour beneath that humble roof In pleased, familiar talk with the old man, 124 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Who on his part received them with blunt phrase Of unaffected courtesy ; — the poor Flock'd to him as their friend : — in grief and joy He sympathized with all. — Two serving-maids, Some twenty years his juniors, — one obese And rubicund, — the other spare and lean, — With a red-nosed, ill-manner'd serving-man, Who rather ruled than served his easy lord, — These form'd his household : — an asthmatic steed Was, like his master, pension'd on half-pay, Or rarely into active service call'd From the near paddock. Such, for some few years From the first date of my incumbency, Continued his establishment, by laws Most primitive and patriarchal ruled, And unprofaned by aught of modish taste Or over-costly luxury, though rich In whatsoever to the incorrupt And unsophisticated heart affords Repose and satisfaction. — At the end Of that brief time, with little outward change, Or more decided symptom of decay, After some days of sickness, meekly borne, With calm expression of a Christian's hope The old man fell asleep. Light lie the turf On that stout heart, as simple and sincere, As gentle and as brave as ever throbb'd Beneath a sailor's bosom ! — be his sleep The sleep of Paradise, till the last trump To resurrection and their final doom THE DREAM OF LIFE. 125 Summon the awaken'd dead ! Nor let me pass Unnoticed or unhonour'd in this lay One who, by me but little known, hath yet Left on my memory the abiding trace Of his urbane and cordial courtesy, By scholarship and classic taste refined ; — A courtly, polish'd man, of bland address, And clerical attire with rigorous taste Adjusted and adorn'd — his reverend head Well powder'd and pomatum'd — even the crown, Which five and fifty winters had made bald, With scrupulous exactness frosted o'er ; — His central bulk, spruce, dapper, and rotund, In silk and broadcloth of correctest cut And sablest hue array 'd ;— his nether parts In hose unwrinkled of the finest woof, And breeches, silver-buckled at the knee, Display'd their plump proportions :— voice and look, Gesture and phrase, to the discerning mind, Proclaim'd the pedagogue — one of a race Now passing from the earth ; — no man of thought, Deep, earnest, serious, seething in the brain Incessantly ; — no frame r of vague plans And purposes, imperfect, ever new, From the rich depths of an exhaustless mind, By the strong working of a Christian heart Evolved ; — no rash enthusiast, labouring still To purify, exalt, and bless mankind, And using education as the means 126 THE DREAM OF LIFE. By Heaven, beyond all other means, ordain'd To accomplish that high task. — Such men our age. In this beyond preceding ages blest, Hath seen, and loved, and mourn'd ; — but unlike these The generation which preceded ours, — The teachers of our sires and of ourselves. Less lofty was their aim ; — more moderate praise Contented their ambition. — The dead tongues — Their prosody and syntax — the nice rules Of composition — the mysterious craft Of metres — these to them were all in all — The end of education, not the means. Nor be it held dispraise to speak of one Not last, nor least distinguish'd in his day, As walking in the ways of his compeers With steps which equall'd theirs, but not out- stripp'd. It was enough, for him of whom I speak, To guard, with rigid and punctilious zeal, That which he found establish'd ; — to maintain, Unchanged and unimpair'd, the old, tried course Of classic education, handed down From those who went before him. This he did With firm, unbending purpose, and became The perfect model of a schoolmaster, Such as our sires respected — such as we, In the vain pride of our conceited age, Are prone to undervalue — blind alike To what exalts the Present — what the Past. THE DREAM OF LIFE. 127 Far juster was the estimate which he Form'd of himself : — proud was he of his craft, Nor would abate one tittle of its claims To honour and respect : — his air and tone Were those of one who felt himself high raised Above unlearned, unscholastic men ; And, in or out of school, with equal pomp, Right stately did he bear himself: — all rules Of etiquette — all nice formalities, He practised and exacted — was, in truth, In discipline a very martinet ; And when, in annual chair of state enthroned — Surrounded by aristocratic groupes, The county's high nobility, — he sat Dispensing prizes — the world could not shew A prouder, happier man ! Yet deem him not Haughty or arrogant, — in manners stiff, Cold, and repulsive : — kindly was his heart, Gentle he was and affable to all ; And, when the labour of the day was done, Loved with his neighbours at the social board To spend a joyous hour, well pleased to reign Supreme o'er mirth and music, whist and wit, — Assuming and receiving at all hands Precedency of place, and recognized As absolute Dictator. Yet such rank Was not, without resistance and dispute, At once assign'd him : — Our Republic found A Brutus for this Caesar. — One there was 128 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Whom Nature's hand had moulded to resist Unconstitutional autocracy, And hold it at defiance — a true son Of Albion — all her dauntless Saxon blood Careering in his veins — a brave, blunt man, Laborious, energetic, shrewd of wit, And resolute of action : — no adept Was he at rules conventional — no slave To forms of etiquette — no worshipper Of rank or sounding- titles: — small respect He own'd or felt for academic grade, Or dignity ecclesiastical, Save as the visible and outward garb Of solid worth within : — his piercing eye, Disdaining shows and seemings, ever sought That which was real : — he esteem'd the man, And not the cloak — the kernel, not the husk. Whate'er himself possess'd of place, or wealth, Or credit with the world, had been acquired By the innate and energetic strength And vigour of his mind, — by industry And persevering toil of head and heart — By due discharge of honourable trust In the far Indies, whence he had return'd, After few years in public duties spent, A rich and prosperous man. Such energy, Moral and intellectual, as could work What he had wrought,— could bear what he had borne. And gain what he had gain'd — and such alone, He honour'd and esteem'd in other men. THE DREAM OF LIFE. 12.0 All else — diplomas — dignities — degrees — Hereditary rank — ancestral pride — Whate'er weak minds revere — he held dirt cheap, And view'd, with somewhat of a jealous eye, Monopolies of homage from of old, In this aristocratic land, assign'd To place, and station, and official rank, Or well or ill maintain'd, with small regard To aught which truly dignifies them all, And gives them actual value :— hence he grew, Almost by Nature's strong necessity, Antagonistic to the Powers that were — A stout and sturdy oppositionist, Obstructing, by all lawful ways and means, What seem'd encroachments of despotic sway ; Asserting and maintaining the plain rights Of social independence against all Which look'd like usurpation. Hence arose Occasional sedition — tart debate Colloquial — insurrection, to restrain, W T ithin legitimate and wholesome bounds, Monarchical prerogative. — Meanwhile The Monarch was not slow to take the field, With such offensive and defensive arms As courteous scholars use — grave irony — Sarcastic repartee — serenest smile Of dignified compassion. Thus they two (If old, traditionary tales speak truth Of times beyond the memory of the Bard) For many a year contended, yet broke not 2 K 130 THE DREAM OF LIFE. The bonds of social neighbourhood, nor lost Their sense of mutual good-will. O'er both The grave long since hath closed : — the petty feuds And jealousies of earth divide them not In that good land where both, we trust, have found Acceptance and repose. But all too long, Methinks, we dwell among remembrances Of days and things gone by : — 'tis meet we turn, Beloved, to the Present. — Our abode — The tabernacle of our earthly joys And sorrows, hopes and fears — this home of ours — Is it not pleasant ? — Is there one elsewhere For which we would exchange it ? — Fourteen years, Well nigh elapsed, have rear'd the puny trees We planted at our coming, to a screen And somewhat of a shade ;— our small domain, Compact within itself, nor overlooked, (Albeit well nigh on every side begirt By new and upstart dwellings,) forms a nook In which the meek and unambitious heart May live and die contented : — within doors We have enough of comfort — and, without, Of verdure, and bright sunshine, and fresh air, To make our dwelling cheerful : — yon green field, Between us and intrusion interposed, Forms for our children a broad ample realm Of undisturb'd enjoyment : — that tall pair Of venerable elms, beneath whose shade Lie buried those old favourites canine THE DREAM OF LIFE. 131 Whose race, had we been childless, might per- chance E'en now have shared our hearth— those elms, methinks, May serve us for apt emblems of ourselves — A hale, green pair, not yet much past their prime, And from their grassy mound, in reverend state, On a new generation looking down Of young and hopeful plants. — By Fancy's aid We might suppose them representatives Of the successive tenants of this house — The pastors of the parish and their wives, Whose spirits, from the burden of the flesh And all its toil released, have migrated, Like Baucis and Philemon's in old time. Into those leafy tenements, and there, Fast by the mansion of their earthly life, Await the body's waking. — But such sport Of wilful Fancy haply ill accords With the sad aspect of yon burial-ground Contiguous to our garden — the long home Of vanish'd generations, and in which Both thou and I, ere many years have pass'd, Must look to lay our bones. We lack not here Mementos of mortality : — no knell Proclaims the passing of a neighbour's soul, But we are first to hear it ; — not a corpse Is carried to its resting-place, but I Do the last sacred offices; — no week, — Scarce a day passes, but some bed of death, 132 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Or long* consuming sickness, summons me To minister beside it : — nor art thou With sorrow less familiar, or less apt To do thy part as comforter, and yield Such help as woman only can dispense To sickness and affliction. Strange 'twould be, If all that we behold of chance and change, Of sorrow and mortality, should leave No trace upon our spirits, nor impress On our remembrance ineffaceably The lesson of the Church, that " in the midst Of life we are in death." — Yet more perhaps Than most of those with whom our lot is cast, We lack such admonition : — life to us Is fill'd, by bounteous Providence, so full Of purest comfort ! Since this house became Our habitation, it hath seen more bliss Than many a life of threescore years and ten Brings to another dwelling — less of grief Than one brief month hath brought to not a few. There's scarce a room, beneath our roof, unmark'd By some distinction of remember'd joy ; — Of friends, whose visits, though too much like those Of angels — passing short and far between — Almost like those of angels gladden'd us ; — Of pleasant and endearing intercourse With neighbours whom we love ;— of home-content, Enliven'd by those studies and pursuits Which purify and strengthen, while they soothe The weary mind. Here, in this study, cramm'd THE DREAM OF LIFE. 133 With strangest piles of heterogeneous lore, O'er Shakspere's magic pages we have laugh'd And wept by turns, while fairest fingers plied The busy needle, and the reader's art Repaid their cheerful toil : — on yonder chair, Honour'd beyond its drawing-room compeers, Sate once the mighty Poet of the Lakes, And in his deep, sonorous voice conversed On themes of loftiest import : — in this house Six children have been born to us — of whom Five until now, by Heaven's rich grace, remain, And one hath fallen asleep. — My boyish dreams Of happiness (though passing bright they were) Fell short of the reality which still Beneath this roof abides — reality Too bright to be enduring. — May we wait In thoughtful preparation, and endure With patience, whatsoever change shall come ! High theme it were — (too high for verse like mine) — To tell the toils, the pleasures, and the cares Of ministerial duty ; — to set forth The life of an ambassador for Christ Such as it is — alas ! how much unlike That which it ought to be ! Else there were food For musing not unfruitful, not unblest, In that long retrospect of years elapsed Amidst parochial cares and toils and plans, Which teems, as I survey it, with strange forms Of human joy and sorrow. In the town 134 THE DREAM OE LIFE. There's scarce a house but to my mind recalls Some sad or pleasing image of past days — Some consolation offer'd — some sick bed Sooth'd or alarm'd — some confidence enjoy'd — Some doubt dispell'd — alas ! some vain assault On some strong-hold of Satan — some defeat Encounter'd— some discomfiture sustain'd Through lack of faith or courage.— Of such things Let me not lightly speak, but speak in words Recorded ere remembrance yet had lost Its first impression. — Two such homely lays I framed in other years ; — the first a tale (If tale it may be call'd) of grievous pain, Through faith and patience wondrously endured. And by endurance vanquish'd ; — a wild strain The other, in Spenserian rhyme jocose Recounting rustic feats of boisterous glee And festal recreation, with a cause Connected, righteous once, though since, alas ! By erring and fanatic zeal profaned, And fitly, to sectarian patronage Abandon'd by the Church. — Elsewhere than here Be those twin songs recorded, and preserve (If that perchance may be) to after days Some memory of the English pastor's cares And pastimes in this nineteenth century !* So end my Dream of Life ! — for life is now * See " Lays of tlie Parish," at tlie end of the present volume. THE DREAM OF LIFE. 135 Less dream-like than it has been; — save, indeed, That with a swifter and yet swifter course The years beg'in and end — their hopes and fears Blossom and fade — their sorrows and their joys Are born and buried. While I strive to grasp What seems the Present, it becomes the Past. All things appear more fugitive, and yet Less lovely than they did. The gorgeous hues In which imagination clothed the world While life was young, have faded : — what remains Is, in its proper lineaments, discern'd, And felt to be precarious — a brief dream, Without a dream's magnificence : — and yet To this the heart still cleaves, as in its youth It clave to Fancy's daintiest imagery ; Still as one joy dissolves and fades away, Reposing on a new one. Death and Change Are found to teach but slowly that sad truth, That no continuing city have we here — No rest for our foot-sole. — And yet their school, Severe and stern, allows few holidays From grief and disappointment ! — while I weave This meditative lay, how rich a source Of present solace, and of hope that gave Bright promise for the future, with a stroke Hath been cut off for ever ! — HE is dead ! — He, whom all England honour'd as her first Of Christian teachers ; — He, by whom her youth Were train'd and lesson'd with most earnest zeal, And depth unknown of wisdom from above, 136 THE DREAM OF LIFE. In Christ's all-perfect rule, and taught to take His yoke upon them, and to bear His cross, As Men who, with divine and human lore Rightly imbued — in intellect and heart Well disciplined — with heavenly arms equipp'd — And knowing both the prize for which they strove, And how it must be won — should, in this world, Fight the good fight of faith.— Alas ! for us ! His townsmen and near neighbours !— us, whose hopes Parental with his life were close entwined ! Who deem'd our children's the most blessed lot By Providence to children e'er assign'd, In that, by him, their young intelligence, Develop'd and inform'd, should first expand Its fresh and tender blossoms, — that in him, Their teacher and their guide, they should behold A model of what Christians ought to be ! Alas ! for us ! — but not for us alone ! — Britain — all Europe — Christendom itself Mourns his untimely loss : — the Church bewails, In him, the best and bravest of her sons : Him, if sometimes an erring, never found A weak or craven champion in her cause : For ne'er were truth and goodness loved and sought With more devoted fervour than by him ; Nor oft have noblest intellectual gifts Been sanctified by loftier piety Than in his bosom dwelt. His inward eye, Clear, rapid, comprehensive, at a glance THE DREAM OF LIFE. 137 Discern'd — if not the perfect form of Truth — At least her shadowy lineaments — which straight With stedfast gaze he follow'd, in his course Flashing- swift gleams of unexpected light On whatsoever subject of high thought Cross'd or approach'd his path. For human ills — The want and woe — the ignorance and sin — The bondage of corruption beneath which The creature, in its anguish and unrest, Still groans and travails — for whatever wrong The feeble suffer and the strong inflict — His was the sorrow of a Christian saint — His were the projects of a Christian sage.— For Britain's helpless millions above all, Writhing in dumb, blind pain — untaught, unfed — With earnest heart, and brain, and tongue, and pen, He toil'd to achieve deliverance ; — to his end, Through honour and dishonour, through report Evil and good, still constant. — Yet, in him, Philanthropy (too oft in feebler minds Destructive of less liberal sympathies) Marr'd not one home affection, but enhanced And purified them all : — no happier hearth Than his e'er flung its winter evening blaze On groupes of joyous faces ; — there was not In all the world a parent, husband, friend, More excellent than he ! Nor was the face Of Nature — her mysterious loveliness — To him indifferent;— flowers, and trees, and fruits,— Beast, insect, feather'd fowl, and creeping thing — 138 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Whatever God hath made — the mountain ridge Embosoming the lake, near which he spent His intervals of rest from lifelong toil — The primrose on the bank — the hawthorn hedge, With woodbines and wild roses intertwined — He loved them all ! Majestic was his soul, And gentle in its majesty — alive To whatsoe'er in this material world Reveals the presence of Divinity, And therefore full of love ! Alas for us ! Who knew him — who beheld and felt the power Of goodness which abode in him — and yet Scarce loved it till 'twas lost ! — Alas for thee ! Poor town, in which lie sojourn'd for a time, And which his sojourn dignified ! — Alas ! For what thou art and hast been ! — Ichabod! Thy glory hath departed ! — Fare thee well ! — Henceforth, though I shall know thee as my home, I will not view thee with a Poet's eye, Nor wed thy name to verse. — And yet indeed I love thee well, unlovely as thou art, And in thy featureless repose of look, Reflecting well that uneventful course Of the mid life of man, to which my years Have now attain'd ; — and though thou must become Less pleasant, less endear'd to me, as years Roll onward — though this house, now musical With voices which I love, as I grow old Must lose them, one by one, till we are left — THE DREAM OF LIFE. 139 (If death by swifter stroke divide us not) — I and my partner — inmates of a home Childless at last — not therefore will I now Grudge thee such love as thou hast well deserv'd — Such as thou still deserv'st. When I am gone, May better and more gifted pastors dwell Where I have dwelt so pleasantly ! — Yon Church, Not even by Rickman's genius, in late years, Reclaim'd from that unblushing ugliness And degradation of deformity By parsimonious thrift inflicted once — May a new generation, more devout Than we and than our fathers — pull it down, As what defies amendment, and erect A temple, worthier of the name it bears, On what is now its site ! — But till it fall, Still may the worship of our English Church, As now, within its walls, in solemn pomp Liturgical, with full accordant strains Of the deep organ and symphonious chaunt Of choristers, ascend from it to Heaven, W^afting the aspirations pure and deep Of Christian hearts ! — may never sound of hymn, Such as these latter days have spawn'd in shoals — Doggrel, prosaic, puritanical, Quintessence of flat balderdash — pollute Its sacred walls, suggesting to the mind Of worshippers, who wish to be devout, Involuntary thoughts which curl the lip Perforce into a smile ! — may all who there 140 THE DREAM OF LIFE. Kneel at one altar, be hereafter One In heart and spirit ! — the whole Church on Earth Anticipating 1 , as the dawn draws nigh, The eternal concord of the Church in Heaven ! LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. Through the dreary night of ages, While the world's gross dreamers slept. Wakeful eyes of saints and sages Have their lifelong* vigil kept. While long ages wax and wane, Still they wake and weep in vain. ii. Were thy words too boldly spoken, Heralding salvation near, Holy Paul ? — alas ! no token Of the dawn doth yet appear. Through thick clouds of grief and sin Breaks no gleam of twilight in. in. Hath the Lord his Church forsaken ? Nay ! — to faith's quick ear and eye, Signs, too clear to be mistaken, Tell of his redemption nigh. Though gross darkness gird us round, We an inner light have found. 44 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. IV. As the fleshly eye grows dimmer, And the brow besprent with grey — Nearer we discern the glimmer Of the soul's eternal day. As the grave begins to yawn, Clear and perfect grows our dawn. v. Lo ! the eastern mountains kindle With upshooting beams afar ! Lo ! already droop and dwindle Waning moon and morning star ! Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, Soon our weary eyes shall bless. VI. Christ himself! — make haste to meet him ! Cast your robes of sin away ; Clothed in light, go forth to greet him, Children of the sober day ; Not o'ercharged with foul excess, Not in lust and wantonness ; VII. Not in wrath and fierce vexation, Not in envying, not in strife, Chaunt your hymns of gratulation To the Lord of light and life. Changed by Him, in heart and will, Let not flesh its lusts fulfil. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 145 FROM THE GOSPEL. Our Lord came once in humble state, And poor and mean array, While crowds did on his advent wait, And strew'd with boughs his way. Upon a colt, an ass's foal, He rode in lowly guise, While shouts and songs, that mock'd control, Peal'd round him to the skies. II. " Hosannah to the mighty King Of David's royal stem ! Whom, in Jehovah's name, we bring To his Jerusalem !" So ran the shout from tongue to tongue, While He in peace drew near — Those tongues which soon foul insult flung Upon his cross and bier ! in. And many a weary age hath past Since those dark deeds were done — And men would fain believe at last His reign almost begun. That day, 'tis said, shall dawn ere long, When He o'er Earth shall ride, Begirt by Heaven's angelic throng, And martyrs glorified. 2 L 146 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. IV. So dream we, and with venturous skill Heaven's times and seasons guess — Yet cleave to this Avorld's follies still, Nor love its bawbles less. Alas ! and sensual lust and hate, And wasting strife and care, Pollute and vex, from gate to gate, Our Father's House of prayer ! v. With garb and gauds of harlot pride And loveless smiles bedeck'd, The Church, unlike a virgin bride, Her bridegroom doth expect : And we, who those blind hearts condemn, Which Life's own Lord could slay, — Should haply, had we lived with them, Have been as blind as they ! SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. A world of deep and fervent thought God's word doth to our gaze unfold — Whate'er was done, or felt, or taught, By saints and holy men of old ; Their faith and patience, hope and love,- Their trials in this nether sphere — LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. J 4' And how they won their crown above Through purifying- sorrow here. II. Nor is this all ; for God hath given, To bless the mind's believing- eye, And lead the loving heart to heaven, The sunbright scroll of prophecy : — Blest glimpses of the bliss to come Hereafter to this world below, When Truth and Love shall build their home Where sin dwells now with shame and woe , in. Six thousand years, in toil and pain, Hath all Creation travail'd sore ; — Six thousand years, alas ! in vain, Nor yet that weary travail o'er ! And well might strongest hearts give way Beneath the incumbent weight of ill, Which grows and gathers day by day, Uncheck'd, unheal'd, triumphant still! IV. Yet this must end ; — deceit and guile, And violence, and lust, and hate Shall not, for aye, God's world defile, Nor lay its glories desolate. We look for a new Earth and Heaven, Where righteousness in peace shall dwell. When He to penal flames hath given This globe of ours, with death and hell. 148 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. FROM THE GOSPEL. SONNET. Though Heaven and Earth, like dreams, should pass away, Christ's word remaineth stedfast : — from their base The hills may be up-rent, and know their place No longer, — the great light which rules the day Be quench'd, — the seas, burnt up, no more obey Their rayless mistress, — each created race Of beast, bird, insect, vanish from the face Of Nature, sunk, herself, in deep decay; — But nought which He hath spoken e'er shall fail ; — Truth, goodness, mercy, wisdom, cannot die, Nor aught in Earth or Heaven or Hell prevail To mar His word, who from his throne on high Came down and suffer'd in this tearful vale, To save lost Man through all eternity. THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. As ministers of Christ, with high commission Entrusted, his rich bounties to dispense, And win, (if that may be,) from lost condition To faith and hope, the slaves of sin and sense, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 1 4P As pledged to preach, or in or out of season, His truth to ears which hearken or reject, — To guide, console, rebuke, and mildly reason — Of us account, and yield us due respect, ii. By us affused, the pure baptismal water Doth to repentant souls rich gifts convey, Sealing, to Heaven's adopted son or daughter, Grace which shall wash the inborn sin away. Tis ours to dress the board, to crown the chalice. With rich regalement of celestial food, — From lips profane, deep stain'd with fraud or malice, Withholding still Christ's body and his blood, in. Respect our office, — but insist, meanwhile, That we should to our trust be faithful found ; Not marring truth with flatteries base and vile — Not fearing to reprove where sins abound, — As duty calls, the cross still meekly bearing, — Ne'er shunning God's whole counsel to make known, — Ourselves, our flocks, with equal zeal preparing To meet the summons to His judgment throne. 150 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. Fast bound in darksome prison The saintly Baptist lay, While on the world had risen Redemption's vernal day : And many a wondrous story To cheer his spirit came, Of Christ's increasing glory, And ever spreading fame. ii. Then spake he in his gladness — " Go forth, my brethren twain, Who soothe my dungeon's sadness, And glory in my chain — Go ask this godlike seemer, Of whom such things we hear,— Art thou the true Redeemer, Or must a third appear ?" ill. Our Lord, in his deep kindness, When they this message brought, On sickness, pain, and blindness, His healing mercies wrought ; And while each dark disaster Before him seem'd to flee, " Go tell, he said, your master, The things ye hear and see. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 151 IV. " The lame their strength recover, The lepers lose their stain, The blind man's night is over, The deaf can hear again ; From Heaven hath light descended To men of low degree ; — Whoso is not offended, The same is blest in me." v. So spake our great Redeemer, — So let our hearts reply ! For who so blind a dreamer, So dull of heart and eye, As not to see around him, As not to feel within, That Satan's chain hath bound him — That Christ hath conquer'd sin ? — VI. We ask not signs and wonders — We go not forth to find Rocks split by volleying thunders, Reeds shaken by the wind. By peace in Earth and Heaven, By blissful hearth and home, By all His grace hath given — - We know that Christ hath come. 152 LAYS "OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. Rejoice in Christ alway — When Earth looks heavenly bright. When joy makes glad the livelong day. And peace shuts in the night. Rejoice, when care and woe The fainting soul oppress, — When tears at wakeful midnight flow, And morn brings heaviness. II. Rejoice, when festal boughs Our winter walls adorn, And Christians greet, with hymns and vows. The Saviour's natal morn. Rejoice, when mourning weeds The widow'd Church doth wear In memory of her Lord who bleeds, While Christians fast to prayer, in. Rejoice in hope and fear, — Rejoice in life and death, — Rejoice, when threatening storms are near, And comfort languisheth. When should not they rejoice, Whom Christ his brethren calls — LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 153 Who hear and know his guiding voice When on their hearts it falls ? IV. Yet not to rash excess Let joy like ours prevail ; — Feast not on Earth's deliciousness, Till faith begin to fail. Our temperate use of bliss — Let it to all appear ; And be our constant watchword this — " The Lord himself is near!" v. Take anxious care for nought, — To God your wants make known, And soar, on wings of heavenly thought, Tow'rd His eternal throne. So, though our path is steep, And many a tempest lours, Shall His own peace our spirits keep, And Christ's dear love be ours. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. " Wanderer in the desart bare, — Man of pale and thoughtful brow, With thy robe of camel's hair — Tell us who and what art thou ? Art thou He for whom we wait — 154 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. He who, as we fondly deem, From their low and lost estate Shall our weary tribes redeem?" ii. " Not Messiah's self am I," (Straight the Baptist did confess,) " But a voice that loud doth cry In the echoing wilderness — Haste, prepare Jehovah's way — Such the message which I bear ; — Disobedient hearts obey ! Stubborn knees be bent in prayer !" in. " Thou art not Elias then, Nor the prophet yet to be ; Wherefore should the sons of men Come to be baptized of thee ?" Thus, in proud and taunting ire, Did the Pharisees reply ; — Straightway gleams of heavenly fire Kindled in the Baptist's eye. IV. " Yea," he cried, " right well ye say, I with water now baptize ; But among you stands to-day One, yet hidden from your eyes — One who doth all worlds control, Heavenly Son of heavenly Sire ; He shall wash the sinful soul With the Holy Ghost and fire." LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 155 V. Jesu ! — the baptismal rite, Ere we knew thee, made us thine ; With thy Spirit's gentle might Come, our carnal hearts refine ! Purify and light and heat All the darksome depths within ; Heal, in nature's last retreat, All her sickness — all her sin ! CHRISTMAS DAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. By vision clear and truthlike dream — By awful voices heard from Heaven, — By many a brief, but glorious gleam Of his own brightness faintly given, — By type and emblem, rite and law, — By prophets' voices stern and bold, — By all they felt, by all they saw, — God to our fathers spake of old. ii. But dreams are vague, and visions dim, And e'en the heavenly sounds, that flow From holiest lips of Seraphim, To sinful hearts seem faint and low ; And types — we scarce know what they mean, And little heed we sage or seer, 156 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Compared with what our eyes have seen, — Compared with what our ears may hear, in. For God's own Son, to whom is given Dominion o'er all worlds that are, — Whose power upholds both Earth and Heaven, — Who guides and governs sun and star, — In whose refulgent person shine His Father's lineaments express, — Hath come on Earth, through love divine To purge our human sinfulness. IV. And through the deeds His love hath done, — Though heir himself of Heaven — hath He A throne above the angels won, Beside the Eternal Majesty. And they — the beautiful — the bright, Who ride upon the lightning's flame, And guide at will the whirlwind's might, Fall down and worship at his Name, v. O Lord ! eternal is thy throne — Thee Heaven's immortal myriads bless ; And men, and saints, and angels own The sceptre of thy righteousness. And, ere this frame was yet begun, Of earth and ocean, sky and sea, God's word went forth, " Thou art my Son, — This day have I begotten thee !" LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 157 VI. They, as a garment, shall wax old — Earth, air, and ocean, sun and sky, — Till, like a vesture, shalt thou fold Creation up, and cast it by. But thou shalt still the same remain, Triumphant over death and hell, — Secure from grief, remote from pain, Eternal and unchangeable. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. In the beginning there was God alone : His immaterial glory fill'd all space, Its ancient and illimitable throne : — Substance was none ; — no colour, form, or place ; Not one of all night's countless orbs had shone As yet upon her still and rayless face ; No sound had pierced the silence lone and deep, Telling of life, which still in Time's vast womb did sleep. ii. Then was the Word with God — the Word was God ; Co-equal — co-eternal — co- divine, Myriads of ages ere Earth's soil was trod By man or seraph, — ere a sun did shine, Impregnating with heat her teeming sod, 158 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. And filling with rich ore the virgin mine — Even then, in glory such as heart ne'er felt, Tongue spake, or thought conceived, the Son and Father dwelt. in. Earth was created : — the great fiat pass'd, ' Let there be light :' — that fiat spake the Word — Himself the light on each man's spirit cast ; And when into our nostrils life was pour'd, He was that life ; — yet when He came at last To his own world — its Maker and its Lord, — That world received him not, and he was fain Over a few poor, faithful, scatter'd hearts to reign. IV. Yet, to as many as received him, He Gave power, e'en then, to be the sons of God ; Not through the pride of mortal ancestry — Not for that they Earth's sacred places trode — Not for that men had will'd it so to be — But that His grace, who quickeneth stone and clod, Made them partakers of a second birth, And denizens of Heaven, while yet they dwelt on Earth. v. Thus was the Word made flesh, and with us dwelt, Here sojourning among the sons of men, — And all our joys and all our sorrows felt, Revealing daily to our mortal ken The glory of his Father, — so to melt Our stubborn hearts, and win them home again LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 159 E'en to Himself; — for us he felt such ruth — He, God's own image, full of heavenly grace and truth ! ST. STEPHEN'S DAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. Our mortal eyes are all too dim To see Heaven's countless seraphim Encamp'd Christ's Church around ; Our mortal ears too dull to hear Angelic voices, close and clear, But in Earth's uproar drown'd. ii. We know not what bright myriads stand Invisible, but near at hand, To guard our narrow way ; — What banners o'er us are unfurl'd, — How weak is he who rules the world To Him whom we obey ! in. And so a timorous war we wage, And plod through life's dull pilgrimage With laggard steps and slow ; Beset by perils dark and drear, Trouble and toil, and doubt and fear, And ever varying woe. 160 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. IV. Yet moments, tew and brief, have been When faith's enfranchised eye hath seen Beyond this mortal night ; — When some strong effort of the heart Hath rent Earth's shadowy veil apart, And brought all Heaven in sight. v. First of the martyrs ! — thus to thee 'Twas given thy Saviour's self to see At God's right hand reveal'd ; Whom once beheld, what marvel thou With patient cheer and stedfast brow Thy saintly soul shouldst yield ? VI. But we ! — our eyes are dark with sin, — Mists, rising from foul depths within, Their else keen vision blind ; And so in vain we struggle still With sluggish heart, and slavish will, And gross and sensual mind. VII. Lord ! on our darkling spirits shine With those refulgent beams of thine, Which kindle faith and love ; That we thy presence may discern, And so, through earth's afflictions, learn To win our crown above. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 161 FROM THE GOSPEL. I. A beauteous world is this of ours, Though diram'd by sin's polluting stain ; The earth looks bright with fruits and flowers, The skies with shifting sun and rain : The air is fresh with fragrant scent, And many a pleasant voice and sound Tells sweetly of deep-felt content In homes where peace and love abound. ii. Who would not say, if this were all, " The temple of God's love is here ; Gleams of his brightest glory fall From Heaven upon this favour'd sphere" ? And yet — behold the lightning's path — The blazing roof, the blasted tree — The tokens of avenging wrath — Plague, famine, death, and misery ! in. Alas ! from this, our beauteous earth, The cry of guilt to God hath risen ; The world, which smiled on Adam's birth, Is now his sinful offspring's prison. There's not a green and flowery vale, There's not a pleasant grove or dell, But has its own peculiar tale Of agony and crime to tell. i M 162 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. IV. And yet o'er all our deeds of shame, — Of hate and vengeance, wrath and lust, — Of plunder'd cities wrapt in flame — Of towers and temples ground to dust, — Of maids' and matrons' foulest wrong — Of ruin'd hearth and reeking sod, — One cry arises, loud and long, — The death-cry of the saints of God ! v. The earth has drunk their gentle blood, And closed above their scatter'd bones ; Rock, hill, and cavern, vale, and wood, Have echoed back their dying groans. In dungeons dark, in tortures dire, By axe and fagot, stone and sword, In whelming floods, in scorching fire, Their lives they yielded for their Lord. VI. Through woods and wilds, o'er pathless rocks, They roam'd to shun the rage of men ; They found a shelter with the fox, They dared the hungry lion's den ; They sought and shared the raven's food, They slept beside the eagle's nest ; By human hatred still pursued, And only in the grave at rest. VII. And years and ages wax and wane, — But that fierce hate is quenchless still ; LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 163 And martyrs toil and bleed in vain To free mankind from grief and ill. The thirst of Cain for Abel's blood, The hate that slew the Lord of heaven, Still persecute the wise and good — Those sole offenders ne'er forgiven ! VIII. And shall not God avenge his own ? — Look up — in all the louring sky The tokens of his wrath are shown — He will avenge them speedily. For ruthless deeds of days long past, For saintly blood like water shed, Those gathering clouds shall burst at last, Ere many another age hath fled. IX. The curse deferr'd at length draws nigh, Our guilty world beneath it shakes ; It blights the earth, it blasts the sky, All flesh before its advent quakes. All human faces gather gloom, Fear hideth in the hearts of kings ; — O Lord, protect thy Church from doom, Beneath thy mercy's sheltering wings. 164 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST'S DAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. A blessed lot was yours, Who dwelt with Christ below, And saw him work his heavenly cures On mortal pain and woe ! Into whose charmed ears His human accents sank ; Whose heart, oppress'd with griefs and fears, His looks of pity drank ! ii. Those words of his we read, And feel their countless worth ; And gladly yet our spirits feed On all he wrought on Earth. From Bethlehem's manger mean To Calvary's awful hill, We track him through each wondrous scene, As faith discerns it still, in. But faith's intensest gaze Is all too weak and cold To pierce the thick and sensual haze Which doth our hearts enfold. Almost God's written word Those craving hearts despise — LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 165 It cannot give the tones ye heard, The looks that bless'd your eyes. IV. Unkind and selfish men ! Ye might have told us more (For God's own Spirit vvarm'd your pen) Of Him whom all adore. His voice — his form — his glance — His stature fair and tall, — The glories of his countenance — Ye might have told them all. v. Among your tribes was none, — Not one poor limner found, Who might pourtray that heavenly One With Earth's rich beauty crown'd ? Could no kind art have left The strains of that last hymn, Whose parting tones your bosoms cleft Near Cedron's hallow'd brim ? VI. So might our eyes have dwelt On that divinest brow ; So might our thrilling hearts have felt Those heavenly accents now. That face o'er home and hearth Might cheering light have flung, And Christians still enjoy'd on Earth The strains their Saviour sung. 166 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. VII. " O ! murmurs base and vain ! (Heaven's martyr'd saints reply) And foolish tongues that thus complain ! And foolish hearts that sigh ! What lack ye now of all That we enjoy 'd of old? What light could on our spirits fall Which yours may not behold ?" VIII. He spake with us on Earth — He speaks to you from Heaven ; Is with you in your grief and mirth — Hath all your sins forgiven : To bear his words to you Our strength and lives we gave ; That ye might know what once we knew, We dared the martyr's grave. IX. Our toils are over now, And yours will soon be done ; Keep patient heart and stedfast brow Till faith's good fight be won. Walk boldly in the light, And so your prize pursue, For God's own glory gilds the night Which yet looks dark for you. x. Deem not the gospel's sway As yet hath slain your sin, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 167 Nor wash'd its crimson stains away, Nor cleansed the founts within. Before God's altar kneel, To Him your sins confess, And He your hearts shall cleanse and heal From all unrighteousness. FROM THE GOSPEL. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee V I. Art thou still on Earth a rover ? Shar'st thou still some mortal home, Though life's task hath long- been over, Tarrying- till thy Lord shall come ? Still unchanged in human beauty, Breathing still our human breath, Stedfast still at all Earth's duty, Only free from pain and death ? ii. Thou whom once the Lord of glory Chose his earthly friend to be — Meekest saint of Christian story, Gentle child of Zebedee — Still do Earth's gross fetters bind thee ? Is thy rest not yet begun ? Where, where, may Christians find thee? In what land beneath the sun? 168 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. III. Art thou still, unheeded, roaming On the Galilean shore, Where Gennesareth's waves are foaming, Which thy bark so often bore ? Dost thou still delight to wander Through the paths thy Saviour trod ; Where with thee he loved to ponder On the ways and works of God ? iv. In the city sad and saintly, — On the Temple's blasted site, — When the stars are burning faintly, Dost thou oft outwatch the night ? How must Salem's ruins move thee ! — All is changed on Zion's hill ; Heaven alone is bright above thee, And its fires unfaded still. v. Or, in Patmos isle secluded, View'st thou, with prophetic eye, Things whereinto ne'er intruded Holiest angel known on high ? Swiftly now the days are waning Which thy mystic lips foretold ; Soon thy Lord, in glory reigning, Shall thy weary eyes behold. VI. Hath our own bright isle beheld thee, Shrouded in some garb obscure ? LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 169 Have we from our doors repell'd thee, For that thou wast old and poor ? Faint, perchance, and worn and weary, Toiling" on from clime to clime — Still thou view'st one prospect dreary, — Waning faith and waxing crime. VII. Sick, perchance, in heart and spirit At the ceaseless strife and change Which Earth's ancient realms inherit — Westward thou hast turn'd to range. There, where nature's smiles are kindest — Where our race is in its youth — Tell us if, e'en there, thou findest Holier love or purer truth ? VIII. Doth thy bark, with gentlest motion. Where the smooth Pacific smiles, Bear thee o'er the breast of ocean, Visiting its myriad isles ? There, in joy and triumph sailing, I Dost thou pass from shore to shore, Where young faith is yet prevailing, Where false gods are found no more ? IX. Idle dreams ! though passing pleasant To the fond and foolish heart, Which on Earth would deem thee present, Though in heavenly bliss thou art. He who here vouchsafed to love thee, 170 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. He who held thee on his breast, Breathes eternal peace above thee, In the chambers of his rest. x. Dreamy sounds, from earth ascending 1 , Tell thee of our strife below ; How the Church is still contending With unvanquish'd sin and woe. Heaven's remotest depths must hide thee, Till her victory be won ; — There may we repose beside thee, When our earthly toils are done ! THE INNOCENTS' DAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. Through Heaven's bright depths profound Float waves of golden sound — Voices of mingled love, and joy and wonder ; Like harps that smite the ear, 'Midst waters murmuring near, And the deep rolling of the distant thunder. Seraphs and saints are chaunting some new song, Which, round Jehovah's throne, Heaven's echoing vaults prolong. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 171 II. On Zion's topmost brow Bright hosts are gathering now — Twelve times twelve thousand, each a sceptred saint! Each bears his Father's name In lines of dazzling name, Writ on his forehead ; — yet that blaze grows faint Beneath the o'erpowering glory of the Lamb Throned in the midst — the One — the infinite I AM. in. And hark ! with one accord, To greet Heaven's sovereign Lord, That countless host its mighty voice doth raise ; A loud and thrilling song Peals through the immortal throng — A song of holy love, and joy and praise : A song which none may learn but such as be Enroll'd among that bright and blessed company. IV. Those blissful sounds to hear, Heaven stoops its charmed ear, — Angels themselves their choral songs suspending ; While blessed souls that sleep In peace serene and deep, Feel the wild music with their visions blending. But even angelic voices are too dull To imitate those strains — so wild and wonderful, v. Ye crowned heads that wait 172 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. In calm and saintly state, (White-vested elders) round the eternal throne; Declare, if that ye may, What glorious hosts are they, From whose bright lips these wond'rous sounds have flown ? Why can none learn the words of that strange song, Nor chaunt the heavenly notes which waft those words along ? VI. " Earth's holiest sons are these, Who (so their Lord to please) Refrain'd on earth from joys of earthly love ; By woman undefiled, Each like a sinless child Follow'd his Master to his rest above ; Nor e'er did passion's sensual paths pursue, Nor e'er the wanton joys of amorous dalliance knew. VII. " These calm'd, with stedfast will, Desire's intemperate thrill, E'en in the May of their impetuous blood ; Nor let vain Fancy's play Their senses steal away ; Nor sank beneath the might of womanhood. But firmly put Earth's baser love aside, So best to live to Him for them on Earth who died. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 173 VIII, " No feverish hopes and fears Disturb'd their prime of years, Nor from their heart's serene devotion drave ; Nor foul suspicion's breath, Nor passion, strong as death, Nor jealousy, more cruel than the grave, Marr'd the composure of their tranquil mind, Nor could their eagle wings of heavenly musing bind. IX. " Nor knew they the turmoil Of household cares or toil, For wife and children daily bread to win ; Nor love's capricious wiles And shifting frowns and smiles, Once snared them into act or thought of sin, While, with fond zeal, to please a wife they strove, Neglecting His high cause who claim'd their hearts above. x. " Therefore, with perfect will, They served their Master still, Nor e'er, on Earth, forgot their heavenly prize ; Through clouds of trouble dim, By faith, discerning Him Whom yet they saw not with their fleshly eyes : For his dear sake Earth's fiercest hate defied, — Lived but to work his will, and for his glory died. 174 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. XI. " Now all their toils are o'er, And sense and lust no more Disturb or sadden their serene repose ; But, with Heaven's glories crown 'd, They near the Lamb are found, And track his footsteps wheresoe'er he goes ; Still in his wake, with rapturous flight, ascending, Through worlds of dazzling light and bliss that knows no endin XII. " And that blest song, they sing, With which Heaven's chambers ring, As with the fabled music of the spheres, Breathes no dull tone of earth — No thought that e'er had birth In the gross world of carnal hopes and fears : But hymns the passion of a virgin love, Which such alone conceive even in these realms above." XIII. Ah ! woe ! — must only they, — (White-vested elders say,) Must only they their Lord's pure joy partake ? And we, who toil below Through mortal grief and woe, Bearing the cross for his beloved sake — Must we ne'er learn the wonders of that strain, For that we wore, on earth, soft wedlock's easy chain ? LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 175 XIV. And that, around our hearth, The laugh of childhood's mirth And matron voices of meek rule were heard ; And that the nuptial bed Was in our chambers spread, And that our hearts were innocently stirr'd By woman's gentle words and cheering smile ; And that her tender love did all our cares beguile ? xv. Is it our sin, that we, In gentlest sympathy, Thro' life's dark paths each other cheer'd along, And felt the bitter dearth Of children snatch'd from Earth, To join their voices to that choral song ? Can chastest love our path so foully mar, As e'en Heaven's brightest courts against our souls to bar ? XVI. " base and foolish plaints !" — (Thus those white-vested saints With dreamlike voice upbraidingly reply ;) " O murmurs base and vain, Which Heaven's hio:h will arraign ! And sinful hearts which with the sinless vie ! Low, sensual spirits, which would take your fill Of Earth's most luscious joys, yet reign with martyrs still ! 176 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. XVII. " Is't not enough that ye Have power on earth to be Emblems and types of Christ's eternal love ; Fond husband and chaste wife, In pure connubial life, The Church pourtraying and her spouse above ? Is't not enough to know that you shall share In heaven the fullest bliss that blessed souls can bear ? XVIII. " Your own hard task fulfil, And meekly do God's will, Cheer'd by the comforts which his love hath given ; It may be that the hours Here spent in wedlock's bowers, Shall shed rich fragrance o'er your homes in heaven ; And love's bright flowers, which bloom so feebly here, Burst into full-blown bliss in Heaven's congenial sphere. XIX. " So let each soul possess, In faith and holiness, Its proper gift of God — and still let all, With reverence due, give place To those whom ampler grace Doth to sublimer self-denial call ; LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 177 Who, self-subdued, best purge from earthly leaven Those founts of holy thought which fit the soul for Heaven." FROM THE GOSPEL. I. " Through the desart wild and dreary, Following tracks explored by few, Sad at heart, and worn and weary, We our toilsome march pursue. O'er our heads, with blaze unclouded, Burns the fierce and fiery noon ; Pestilence, in darkness shrouded, Near us walks beneath the moon. ii. " O'er the steep and pathless mountain Oft with bleeding feet we climb ; Scarce to taste the desart fountain Human hate allows us time. Israel's homes lie far behind us, Yet we pause not to look back, Lest the keen pursuer find us, Lest grim murder scent our track, in. " Eagles o'er our heads are wheeling, Each careering towards her nest ; E'en the wolf and fox are stealing 2 K 178 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. To the covert of their rest ; Every foul and noxious creature Finds on earth its lair and bed ; — But the infant Lord of Nature Hath not where to lay his head. IV. " Yet, my babe, sweet sleep enfolds thee On thy fainting mother's arm ; God, in his great love, beholds thee, Angels guard thy rest from harm ; Earth and hell in vain beset thee, Kings against thy life conspire ; But our God can ne'er forget thee, Nor His arm, that shields thee, tire, v. " Where is now our peaceful dwelling? — Wrapt perchance in vengeful flame ; Ruffian voices round it yelling, Curses on thy gentle name. Woe to Bethlehem's matrons, keeping Tenderest watch above their dead ! Rachel, for her children weeping, Knows not to be comforted. VI. " Woe to them ! — and yet their anguish Fades before what mine must be ; Doom'd to see my loved one languish Through this life's long misery. Doom'd to see Earth's hate expended On his meek and lowly head, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 179 Till his weary task is ended — Till his sinless blood is shed. VII. " Heavenly hope shall soothe their sorrow, When the grass begins to wave, After many a dreary morrow, Freshly o'er each infant grave. I alone, to rest a stranger, Must behold, with aching eye, O'er my child distress and danger Gathering still incessantly. VIII. " But forbear, my sinful spirit, Of thy chastening to complain ; Gladly let me here inherit Toil and sorrow, care and pain ! Welcome Earth's most dread vexations ! Welcome anguish and distress ! Since my name all generations For a Saviour's love shall bless !" THE SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. The childhood of our race is o'er, Its youthful prime hath faded long; Man's ripening mind delights no more In dream and vision, tale and song. 180 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. The dawning hope, the fond belief, The novelty of life are fled ; And all is sober, joy and grief, And phantasy and faith are dead. ii. The rites which pleased our Nature's youth, While heart and mind were childish still — The earthly types of heavenly truth, — The altars of the grove and hill, — The saintly pomp — the annual feast — The sounds of sacred dance and hymn, — The sacrifice of bird and beast — These rites are o'er — these splendours dim. in. Our reason, disenthralls at length From youthful fancies, fond and vain, Comes forth, released by manhood's strength, From governor's and tutor's reign. The shadowy types of mystic lore Content not now our mental eye, Whose quenchless gaze would fain explore All wonders of all worlds on high. IV. And must man's spirit vainly pant For purest truth to learn and love ? Still groan beneath its earthly want Of fellowship with things above ? — Not so ! — the teeming womb of Time Hath travail'd with a wondrous birth ; LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 181 God's Son hath come, in love sublime, His brethren to redeem on earth. v. And for that we, through sin subdued, Are sons of God and heirs of heaven, Our Father, to each heart renew'd, The spirit of a son hath given. The soul's long- servitude hath ceased, — Not now, like slaves, we crouch and cower. But on our Father's bounty feast, — Enjoy His love, adore His power. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. " Thou wast to me the brightest dream That e'er upon my spirit shone ; Alas ! and is that heavenly gleam For ever lost and gone ? And do I live ? — and can it be That thou a shameless wanton art, Who wast the type of purity To this fond, foolish heart? ii. " I thought, ere yet I dared to love, That thou wast scarce an earth-born thing Thy mortal grace so tower'd above Earth's best imagining. Almost it seem'd profane to press 182 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. The ground on which thy feet had trod,- Their path was mark'd with holiness, As by the steps of God. in. " And when my heart grew bold at last, And perfect love had banish'd fear, And gentle hope grew fair and fast For many a pleasant year — It was a joy I may not tell The beauty of thy soul to see, And, in my fondest thought, to dwell On its pure harmony. IV. " Ah me ! — how like a glimpse of Heaven The day of our betrothal seem'd, When first a pledge to love was given Of all that hope had dream'd ! And I thenceforth might think of thee When to my daily toil I went, As doom'd in after years to be My star of home content ! v. " Can she, (I thought) so fair and good, Partake a base mechanic's lot, The light of loveliest womanhood Diffusing through his cot ? Can she, whose heart is all above, A poor man's bride consent to be, And rear, with meek and patient love, His lowly progeny ? LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 183 VI. " But thou didst so benignly smile, And speak with such a gentle tone — Ah ! me — that voice might sure beguile An angel from his throne ! And all thy words, and all thy ways, And all thy looks so heavenly were ; Twas heaven into thine eyes to gaze — Thy mortal love to share ! VII. u And wast thou then a sensual thing, — A heartless wanton, light and vain ? — Such thoughts o'erwhelm my heart, and fling Distraction on my brain. No, no — it must not, cannot be — Thy looks bespeak a virgin's heart, The wanton's gestures suit not thee, Nor yet the wanton's art. VIII. " Thou dost not quail before my glance — And yet thine own is modest still ; Thy calm and radiant countenance Betrays no thought of ill. I cannot scan thy secret soul, Nor read the unfathom'd depths within ; But ne'er did looks like those controul The restless pulse of sin. IX. " And yet — those fatal proofs of guilt ! — Alas ! too plain a tale they tell ; — 184 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. O ! that my life-blood had been spilt Ere thus my loved one fell ! And I ! — shall I that fall proclaim ? Make public all her guilty deeds ? Consigning" Her to scorn and shame For whom my spirit bleeds ? x. " No, Mary — my crushed heart may break, But thou shalt still uninjured be ; If vengeance e'er thy faults o'ertake, It shall not come from me. Thou wast my hope — my pride — my bliss, I will not now divulge thy shame, Nor point the common scoffer's hiss At thy beloved name." XI. Such thoughts, perchance, in turbid stream O'er Joseph's burden'd spirit crept; But that same night a blessed dream Came to him as he slept : — And when he from his sleep arose, With stedfast heart and cheerful brow, Like one whose hopes on God repose, He pledged his nuptial vow. XII. In pure and reverent love he dwelt With her his own, his chosen bride ; Nor all a bridegroom's fervour felt, Xor slumber'd by her side. He shared with her his peasant's cot, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 185 He watch'd her fondly night and morn, But still approach'd her chamber not Until her babe was born. THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. The world may look serene and bright, Our path bestrewn with choicest flowers ; And days of love and home-delight, And nights of healthful rest be ours. From worldly strife and worldly care The heart a safe repose may win, And yet feel all too weak to bear The burden of unpardon'd sin. 11. The mists of grief but rarely dim The glorious light of childhood's skies ; Life tingles in its every limb, Health speaks and sparkles in its eyes : Yet, e'en among its sports and toys A cloud is gathering on its brow ; Stern conscience soon will blast the joys Which steep the soul in gladness now. in. Through many a green, secluded walk, In life and hope's delicious May, Engross'd in love's unwearying talk, 186 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Fond youths and happy maidens stray. Earth hath not a diviner bliss On gentle spirits to bestow ; Yet boast not — for alas ! e'en this Unpardon'd sin converts to woe. IV. The pleasant noise of children's mirth Makes glad our sober middle age ; Bright faces, round the evening hearth, The day's heart-wasting cares assuage. But wife and children's sweetest smile — The light that on our hearts doth fall — The love that doth our griefs beguile — Unpardon'd sin can poison all. v. With stedfast thought and cheerful toil The mines of learning we explore, And waste our patient midnight oil O'er many a page of ancient lore. We seek and earn the sage's name, We feel the sage's pride within ; But all our wisdom, all our fame, Lie crush'd beneath unpardon'd sin. VI. We give our hearts to humankind, With liberal bounty we dispense To fainting flesh and weary mind The streams of our benevolence. And poor men's tongues our kindness bless, And earth and air our praises fill ; LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 187 But, in the spirit's loneliness, Unpardon'd sin consumes it still. VII. He — he alone is truly blest Whom God hath from this burden freed ; Whose doubts and fears are lull'd to rest, Whose peace of heart is peace indeed : Who, strong in faith, can lift to heaven A tranquil and undaunted brow ; Who knows and feels his sin forgiven, His soul's dark warfare ended now. VIII. And who are they on whom alone Descends this blessing from above ? To whom their Father hath made known These tokens of especial love ? The Jew by circumcision's rite ? — The Christian by baptismal sign ? — On these doth more celestial light Than on less favour'd spirits shine ? IX. Nor outward sign, nor mystic rite, Alone such blessings can confer ; — To walk by faith, and not by sight — Like Abraham's self a worshipper, — To count all earthly gain but loss, — To look and long to be forgiven Through Him who died upon the cross — This — this unlocks the gates of heaven. 188 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. The angels' song was ended, Sweet stillness fill'd the air, Through which to Heaven ascended The shepherds' silent prayer. They gazed on one another, — Strange thoughts were rife in them ; Then each cried, " Up, my brother ! Away to Bethlehem ! ii. " Our sheep, in safety feeding Upon the mountain side, Beneath the watch-dog's leading May wander far and wide. From heat, and frost, and thunder, God shelter flock and fold ! While we this work of wonder Are journeying to behold." in. Forthwith each sturdy ranger To Bethlehem took his way ; And soon they found the manger Wherein the Saviour lay. They bow'd the knee before him, Those simple men and true ; They bless'd the womb that bore him, The breast whose milk he drew. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH 189 IV. No sign of kingly splendour Did that poor hovel grace ; But love, devout and tender, Had sanctified the place : For there the saintly mother, The virgin undefiled, In bliss she could not smother, Was gazing* on her child. v. And, keeping watch above her, In rapt and heavenly mood, Her husband, friend, and lover, Stout-hearted Joseph stood. Such bliss no mortal father E'er felt for his first-born, As faith began to gather In his pure soul that morn. VI. And, as in smiling slumber That blessed infant lay, Bright visions without number About him seem'd to play. And in that lowly dwelling A stillness, hush'd and dim, Seem'd of the presence telling" Of viewless seraphim. VII. They came and they departed, Those simple, holy men ; 190 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. And each felt joyful-hearted As home he fared again : But oft in thought they wander'd To all they left behind ; While Mary kept and ponder'd Their visit in her mind. THE EPIPHANY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. Axgelic tongues would be too weak, Angelic hearts too cold, The wonders of God's love to speak, So deep and manifold. Heaven's principalities and powers Are gazing on this world of ours, His counsel to behold, Which, since creation's morn, hath been Unfolding on this mortal scene. ii. The strife in which we here engage With Hell's rebellious host, The warfare which the Church doth wage, Hath Heaven's whole heart engross'd : E'en as the news of foes' descent, In fierce invading armament, On some far island coast, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 191 With one intense, tumultuous thrill May rouse an empire's heart and will. m. We know not but each brave repulse Which foils the Tempter here, Forbids his leg-ions to convulse Full many a brighter sphere. But this we know — that since, on Earth, Sin's foul and monstrous womb gave birth To grief, and pain, and fear, The wisdom and deep love of Heaven Against hell's noxious brood have striven. IV. At first, in dark mysterious guise, That wisdom lay conceal'd ; Obscurely to prophetic eyes As in a glass reveal'd. But now the veil of Hebrew lore Can dim its glorious light no more ; And Abraham's race must yield The rights, which theirs no more may be, To all Earth's countless progeny. v. And, day and night, o'er land and sea, Is spreading, far and fast, The knowledge of Christ's mystery, Close hid in ages past. And who are they who tell the tale ? Who, heaven-commission'd, rend the veil O'er all the nations cast? 192 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. And cause the light of truth divine On man's sin-darken'd soul to shine ? VI. Not seraphs, as ye well might deem, With souls and tongues of flame ; Whose utterance yet too weak would seem That mystery to proclaim : Not prophets from the grave arisen, To groan once more in fleshly prison ; Not saints, who overcame, Through Jesus' blood, the infernal powers Which yet besiege these hearts of ours. VII. Ah ! no ! — the messengers of peace Themselves are sinners still ; Who scarce, e'en yet, have found release For weary heart and will. Fast bound in Satan's devilish thrall, Christ's love aroused them, one and all, And sent them forth to fill His marriage-feast with guests, and tell Of his rich love, unsearchable. VIII. The words they speak are faint and few, And scarce, at times, find vent ; Yet can the strongest hearts subdue, With might omnipotent. For from the spirit's depths they start, And wing their way from heart to heart, As though the speaker meant, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 193 In that deep utterance, to reveal A love he cannot choose but feel. IX. And through that love, sent down from Heaven To dwell in hearts new-born, Shall sin at last from Earth be driven, And Death of terror shorn. The weapons of our warfare here Are faith, and hope, and holy fear; — Let these our souls adorn ; And Earth shall soon, like Heaven, confess Christ's reign of peace and righteousness. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. Fair Star ! whose orient beauty, In patient love and duty, Thro' many a sultry clime the pilgrim-sages led ; Whose beams, serene and tender, First stay'd their waning splendour Above the lowly stable where our Lord had laid his head ; — ii. Bright, tranquil child of morning ! Who gav'st the earliest warning Of that more glorious Sun, e'en then about to rise ; — From light's eternal fountains, 2 o 194 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. O'er Earth's remotest mountains, First heralding the blaze of day, which soon should fill the skies ! in. What wast thou, wandering- planet ? — Thy course, — ! whence began it? In what dim, distant tract of unimagined space Did thy Creator form thee ? Did first the sunbeams warm thee ? Did Nature's law project thee on thy swift and ceaseless race ? IV. Ah ! sure, no glimmering meteor Wast thou — Earth's noxious creature, From dank, unwholesome dews and fetid vapours bred ; No comet fiercely glaring, Men's hearts for war preparing, And shaking, from its horrid hair, hate, pestilence, and dread. v. Faith's eye alone could view thee — Faith's foot alone pursue thee — So thou didst safely guide those pilgrims on their way; While yet thou wouldst not render One glimpse of faintest splendour To light stern Herod's ruffian bands to seize their infant prey. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 195 VI. Perchance some new creation, By sudden revelation Wast thou, to mortal eyes, then first made manifest : Some home of souls departed, The holy, humble-hearted, For ever floating- blissfully,— an island of the blest! VII. And when thy task was over, Thy beauty thou didst cover With azure folds of sky, and, hid from mortal eyes. O'er ether's boundless ocean Resume thy destined motion Through space where other systems roll, and other suns arise. VIII. Ah ! wherefore thus forsake us ? When pain and grief o'ertake us, Why not, from time to time, thy cheering light unveil ? On many a night of sorrow Presaging glad to-morrow To hearts that faint beneath their load, and eyes that, weeping, fail ? IX. Where lonely saints are kneeling, From godless eyes concealing The weight which this world's sin doth on their spirits lay — 196 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Where, in prophetic study, Until the east grows ruddy, All night pale scholars wake and watch for Christ's long promised day — x. Where ships, in endless motion, Plough through the plains of ocean, The messengers of peace to heathen lands to bear — Where, English homes forsaking. Brave hearts are slowly waking, In savage haunts and gloomy wilds, the voice of Christian prayer — XI. Where Heaven's elect assemble — Where sinful spirits tremble — Where first the stricken soul finds strength and voice to pray — Where, round some widow'd father, Half orphan'd children gather Beside their sainted mother's grave — O why with- hold thy ray ? XII. For w T hat more blessed token To hearts, by sorrow broken, Of pardon seal'd in heaven and future rest could be? What surer sign could find us, In trouble to remind us Of Christ's protecting light and love — than that reveal'd in thee ? LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 197 XIII. Soul ! — soul ! — forbear such questions, — Poor fancy's wild suggestions, — Vain longings of the sense to feed its carnal eye ; What boots it that Man's spirit Faith's treasures doth inherit, If yet it cleaves so fondly to its old idolatry ? XIV. No blaze of sensual glory, Intense but transitory, Could the heart's craving thirst for purer light allay ; Even thine, fair star, returning, Would but increase our yearning, Which nought on earth could satisfy, for Heaven's unclouded day. xv. Yet fond imagination, By many a bright creation, With shadowy types of Heaven can people Earth's domain ; Still shaping and combining, From all things sweet and shining, Memorials of immortal love to soothe our mortal pain. XVI. The rainbow, in its splendour, To hearts devout and tender Still yields a glorious pledge of deepest sin forgiven The dawn's outbreaking whiteness, 198 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. The sunset's fading brightness, Shed gleams of glory on the earth as from our homes in Heaven. xvii. And when morn's star ascending, Its pearly light is blending With the pale, silver tints of the still sunless sky, May fancy's eye discover Thine orb, blest star, above her, Bright as when first it usher'd in the day-spring from on high. XVIII. Thus air, and earth, and ocean, To hearts of calm devotion, Rich founts of cheering thought and holy comfort prove ; All things are theirs for ever, Nor life nor death shall sever Their faith and patience here below from Christ's eternal love. FIRST SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. Hast thou believed, poor mortal child of sorrow,— O ! hast thou felt thy grievous plague within ? Hath thy crush'd heart e'er vainly long'd to borrow Rest and relief from the dull weight of sin ? LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 199 Hast thou retraced, with shame and consternation, The paths thy spirit, since its birth, hath trod ? Hast thou conceived, in faint imagination, The wrath of God ? ii. Know'st thou His power — His works of fear and wonder, Creator of all worlds, sole Lord of Heaven, Whose glance is lightning, and whose voice is thunder ; Beneath whose breath hills quake, and rocks are riven ? Kings lick the dust before Him, — mightiest nations, Thrones, empires, at his pleasure, wax and wane ; Man's countless tribes, through all their generations, Confess His reign. in. Know'st thou His holiness ? — Behold ! before Him The angels veil their brows of living light ; Heaven's holiest children tremblingly adore Him ; Not Heaven itself is spotless in his sight. No sinful thought, no wandering dream of folly, The terrors of his presence may endure ; The King of saints is He — the Lord most holy, And just, and pure ! iv. And what art thou, poor sinful human creature, Inheritor of guilt, and shame, and woe? Thy brightness soil'd, defaced each glorious feature, Which once His image on thy soul did show ? 200 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Despiser of his laws ! insane reviler Of His great name ! wild rebel to His will ! Of thine own soul the unrestrain'd defiler ! Yet scatheless still ! v. Why art thou spared ? — what potent intercessor Averts from thee His oft uplifted arm ? Why, on this earth, so reckless a transgressor, Liv'st thou and breathest, free from mortal harm ? The sun shines on, the rains still fall to bless thee ; Heaven's brightness — Earth's affections still are thine ; Fond bosoms heave, and gentle arms caress thee In tenderest twine. VI. And ever and anon, amidst Earth's pleasures, Thou hear'st a voice — a still small voice of love, From these vain pomps and these decaying trea- sures Wooing thy soul to fairer hopes above : And, midst thy darkest deeds of shame and terror, God's Spirit whispers to thy secret ear, " This is the way — oh ! quit those paths of error, And walk thou here !" VII. And thou art still encompass'd by His people, And saints, perchance, weep for thee, night and day ; And Sabbath chimes ring out from tower and steeple, In His own house inviting thee to pray. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 201 And Christ still sends thee his appointed teachers, Still proffers to thee his own flesh and blood ; Entreats, persuades, by pastors and by preachers, Thy wayward mood. VIII. O ! close not thou thine ear, nor madly darken Thy heart by reckless counsel, vain and wild ; But to those words of mercy meekly hearken, E'en like a gentle and submissive child. Think how all heaven hath been convulsed to save thee, Vile as thou art, from hell's eternal death ! Think how God's Son — his sole begotten, gave thee His dying breath ! IX. Think on the Virgin's womb ! — on Bethlehem's manger ! God condescending to a peasant's birth ! Think on that life of grief, distress, and danger! — His toils, his tears, his troubles here on Earth ! Think on that desert fast '.—that lone temptation !— Think on the anguish of Gethsemane ! — Think on the bitter cup, to win salvation, Endured for thee ! x. For thee !— for thee !— the lost— the unconverted, — The grief of angels— hell's close-guarded prize !— But for his love by Heaven itself deserted ! Doom'd prey to that fierce worm which never dies ! 202 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. And wilt thou still resist his deep compassion ? By new rebellions his slow wrath provoke ? Nay ! — to His will thy spirit meekly fashion, And bear his yoke. XI. Yield up thy body, once sin's willing- servant, To Him a living sacrifice — to Him Give heart, soul, thought, in love devout and fer- vent ; Join, with thy voice, His choir of seraphim. Thy health, thy strength, the glory and the beauty Of all thine inner man, with stedfast will, Submit henceforth to the calm rule of duty, And serve Him still. XII. Be not conform'd to this world's varying humour, Its love, its hate, its folly, or its pride ; Court not, and fear not, the foul breath of rumour ; Be to Earth's pomps and pleasures crucified. Bow thy soul meekly to the Spirit's guiding, Welcome his pure transforming influence ; Till Christ shall reign, in power and grace abiding, O'er soul and sense. XIII. Walk humbly before God, and with thy neigh- bour ; Be wisdom's lowliest and most docile child ; Counting it ample fruit of all thy labour That thou to God, through Christ, art recon- ciled. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 203 Be One in faith and hope, in heart and spirit, With His true members, and in patient love Do thine own task, that so thou may'st inherit Their bliss above. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. The solemn joyance of the paschal feast In Salem's thousand homes was over now; The melody of Psalms had sunk and ceased, And sacrifice, and prayer, and offer'd vow T Were mute on Zion's Temple-crested brow; Through the throng'd gates was passing many a train Of pilgrims, who had come their knees to bow, In annual homage, at Jehovah's fane, And now with peaceful steps were wending home again. ii. At that year's feast men's spirits had been stirr'd Beyond their wonted fervour ; — far and near, Throughout the city, grave discourse was heard, Breathing expectance not unmix'd with fear; And friends, who met around their paschal cheer, Spake each to each, in low and solemn tone, Of Him who, all were hoping, should appear, Ere many another passover had flown, O'er Israel's race redeem'd to rear his promised throne. 204 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. III. And hoary rabbis, who had spent their youth And the calm fervour of their middle age In learned study of prophetic truth, Met and conversed, in conference deep and sage, On what God's oracles did now presage ; Computing how the years were nigh fulfill'd, Foreshown long since in Daniel's mystic page, Whereon high hopes did men securely build, That soon Messiah's star should now the horizon gild. IV. And hearts which long had for deliverance sigh'd From the stern pressure of Rome's iron sway, Felt as if soon they should not need to hide The swelling hope, which deep within them lay, That Israel's bondage now should pass away, And brighter glory than her morn had seen Gladden the progress of her later day, When she of all the nations should be Queen, And to Earth's utmost bounds extend her sway serene. v. And among those of the unlearned sort, The wild fore-shadowing of their hearts' desire Found copious vent in many a strange report Of signs in Heaven, — of blood and smoke, and fire, Betokening to the Earth convulsion dire ; Of meteors kindling all the Eastern sky ; LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 205 Of yawning- graves, and ghosts in bright attire, Who through the city walk'd nocturnally, And spake of change to come, and freedom draw- ing nigh. VI. And thus, on all the city's mighty heart, A breathless hush of expectation dwelt ; And tears, unbidden, to men's eyes would start As they, in fervent supplication, knelt Before God's altar ; and what each man felt His neighbour in his eyes full well might read, Till into words fond hope began to melt — " Is Christ then born ? — hath he been seen in- deed ? Doth God vouchsafe at last to heal his people's need ?" VII. But the feast ended, and Christ had not come ; So, by degrees, hope's fever was allay'd, And all dispersed — each rustic to his home, Each townsman to his craft or to his trade. Such termination life's dull labours made To anxious speculation ; — they meanwhile, The dwellers afar off, beg-an to lade Their beasts, and homeward fared for many a mile. In cheerful, pleasant talk, which did the way be- guile. VIII. And thus tow'rd East and West, and South and North, 206 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Thro' Salem's every gate, from morn to night, Youth, manhood, and old age were issuing forth ; In sooth a solemn and affecting sight ! Beneath those myriads hill and dale were white As unto harvest, while each several breast With its own treasure of glad thoughts felt light ; For each had done Jehovah's high behest, So winning for itself abiding peace and rest. IX. Amidst the humbler wayfarers were two, Husband and wife — a noticeable pair, Who northward their long journey did pursue ; Calm and devout their aspect and their air ; She, amidst Judah's daughters, passing fair, And now in the full bloom of matron prime ; Yet, on her saintly forehead, did she bear Traces of thought more holy and sublime Than our dull hearts can reach in all their mortal time. x. Upon an ass sedately did she ride, Which for their travel scant provision bore ; While, staff in hand, her husband by her side Cheer'd her with loving solace evermore. — Thus pleasantly away the daylight wore, And now, for weary beast and wearier man, Until the morrow, must their toil be o'er ; And, halting for the night, the caravan To pitch its lowly tents right joyfully began. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 207 XI. Then suddenly, amidst that motley crowd, A strange yet pleasant turmoil might be seen ; And busy voices, clamouring* long and loud, Lent their shrill discord to a wilder scene Than e'er our quiet clime beheld, I ween; As each small groupe its own encampment chose, By bubbling fount or palm-tree broad and green, Where each, or ere the gathering shades should close, Prepared its evening meal and night's secure repose. XII. To each his separate province was assign'd ; Some spread the viands forth in neat array ; Some for their beasts the freshest pasture find ; Some kindle watchfires, so to scare away From the small camp each prowling beast of prey ; Some for the outposts choose their turns by lot, That so the rest may sleep secure till day : No separate charge or caution was forgot, To guard from foes' assault that lone, sequester'd spot. XIII. Meanwhile that grave-eyed couple, each for each. Their coarse and scanty supper did prepare, With gentle interchange of loving speech, — Sweet condiment, I ween, to sorriest fare ! Then spake the matron, " Much I marvel where Tarrieth our child, who never, till to-night, Hath fail'd our labour, or our meal, to share ; 208 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Why comes he not to bless our longing sight ? Strange he should leave us now in this wayfaring plight ! XIV. " Fair as he is beyond the sons of Earth, In form and feature, as in heart and will, — Divine in wisdom, as divine by birth ; Yet hath he been, in love and duty, still The meekest child that ever did fulfil A parent's bidding ; nor hath either heart (Thine, Joseph, or mine own) been fain to thrill, Since he was born, with one such grievous smart As oft, for children's sins, makes parents tears to start. xv " Why comes he not ? — why now, at last, neglect His parents' needs ? — why leave us thus to bring (As if through heedless sloth or disrespect) Leaves for our couch, and water from the spring To quench our thirst ? — why suffer us to fling Our weary limbs upon their earthy bed Without a blessing ? — sure, he would not wring Our hearts with wilful wrong or causeless dread ; — O ! lives he yet on earth, or rests among the dead ?" XVI. Thus the pale mother, in her anguish, spake, With trembling voice and tear-suffused eye ; To whom her husband : " O ! forbear to make Thy fond heart sad with causeless agony. His time, thou know'st, is not yet come to die ; LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 209 His earthly trials scarcely are begun : — Somewhere he loiters in our company ; For few there be who joy not to have won, By most enticing arts, the presence of thy son. XVII. " Haply with gracious and persuasive speech, And wisdom riper than his tender age, Tho' all unlearn'd, some neighbour doth he teach The import deep of some prophetic page; — Or, it may be, less serious tasks engage His gentle spirit ; — on the beaten track He may have wander'd from our pilgrimage, To feed his thought, which food doth never lack, On Nature's wondrous works — and soon will he come back." XVIII. Thus he his anxious consort mildly cheer'd : But the sun set, and moon and stars arose, While yet their missing child had not appear'd ; And now the caravan in deep repose At length was hush'd ; — they only could not close Their aching eyelids ; — the fond mother's breast Then first experienced all a mother's woes, And, as each lay in comfortless unrest, Did many a wild surmise their anxious minds mo- lest. XIX. Scarce did the dawn above the mountains peep Ere these sad mourners from their couch had sprung, 210 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. When scarce an eye, save theirs, had banish'd sleep — And, with imploring looks and anxious tongue, Wander'd from tent to tent their friends among. — " O ! tarrieth not our gentle child with you ?" Thus still they ask'd, and still their hearts were wrung With bitterest disappointment, and anew Did they their restless search, with faltering steps, pursue. xx. In vain ! — no eye had seen that glorious boy Since from the city gates the train had past, And other cares did now all thoughts employ ; — Each to his own loved home was hastening fast. The weary parents stay'd their search at last, And toward Jerusalem retraced their way, While many an anxious glance to Heaven they cast, And ever and anon did humbly pray That from their feverish lips this cup might pass away. XXI. So to the Holy City back they went, Fearless, though unprotected ; for what dread E'er touch'd a parent's spirit while intent On a child's loss, perchance untimely dead ? And they moreover on their journey sped, Trusting, with all their hearts, to Heaven's high love, Which still had saved them, when of old they fled LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 211 Before fierce Herod's wrath, and from above Warn'd them, in dreams, which way and when their steps should move. XXII. But vain was all their toil : — in crowded street. In lonely grove and garden, mount and hill, In mart where buyers and where sellers meet. On Cedron's marge, by clear Siloam's rill, — They search'd and search'd with fruitless labour still ; Their truant child could nowhere yet be found. And deeper awe began their hearts to fill : — " Hath God removed him beyond this world's bound ? — Was he too pure and good to tread our mortal ground ? XXIII. " Is he withdrawn to some less sinful sphere. — There to be train'd and nurtured for the strife Which he with Satan must encounter here, So to redeem our race from death to life ?" Thus wildly ask'd the husband and the wife. While hope within their hearts was fading fast. And dark imaginations there were rife, And faith half sank beneath the bitter blast Which o'er their sky of peace such clouds of dark- ness cast. xxiv. Yet fail'd not, in that dark and trying hour, Their gentle patience or confiding love ; And e'en 'midst pangs which did their souls de- 212 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Their thoughts rose freely to God's throne above. So, ere their weary steps had ceased to rove Thro' the wide city, they would spread their grief Before His altar, thus perchance to move His pity, and by prayer devout, though brief, From this exceeding woe obtain divine relief. xxv. So toward the Temple, up the sacred brow Of Zion, pass'd they on their weary way, And stay'd their steps beside the portal now Through which men pass to sacrifice or pray : Throng'd was the gate with busy feet that day, For thither, at the feast, did crowds resort To hear the rabbis, who, in learn'd array, Were wont to fill the Temple's outer court, Expounding Moses' law to those of simpler sort. XXVI. Onward they pass'd to where a circle stood Around a knot of doctors, then intent On some deep question, learnedly pursued With reason sound and specious argument, Whereto a curious ear the hearers lent, Silent and moveless, while on every brow Sat thought perplex'd and deepest wonderment ; —But ah ! what voice disturbs that silence now? Wake, Mary, from thy grief!— ah, well indeed mayst thou ! XXVII. The centre of that circle, close begirt With grave-eyed rabbis, erudite and sage, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 213 A stripling stood, whose high and strange desert All ears, all hearts, all voices did engage ; Scarce twelve years old, (so tender was his age !) Yet with profoundest questions did he ply Those reverend men, and from the scripture page Cull close and cogent arguments, whereby He foil'd the subtlest skill of all their casuistry. XXVIII. Never, till then, had disputant so keen Opposed and baffled those divines profound ; Full sorely were their wits perplex'd, I ween, Against such wisdom to maintain their ground As in his fervent pleadings did abound ; Yet was there nought of youth's presumption rude, Or flippant scorn in his demeanour found ; Modest he was, and meek of eye and mood, With more than mortal grace and gentleness endued. XXTX. In simplest phrase, and yet like one who bore Commission from on high, did he refute Those grave professors of rabbinic lore — Doctor, and scribe, and learned priest to boot ; — Not one was found who could with Him dispute ; The Pharisaic bigot stood aghast, — The flippant Sadducee for once was mute, Seeing and feeling all his triumphs past, And almost deeming now Messias come at last. XXX. And, on some faces, rising scorn and hate, 214 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. On others fervent interest you might read ; While many a listener to the keen debate Did on that stripling's words, like manna, feed, Feeling them full of grace and truth indeed ; So well he reason'd upon things divine, So warm'd with life the letter of their creed, Bringing rich gems from truth's exhaustless mine, Whose brightness on all hearts, with quenchless light, did shine. XXXI. His voice once heard, those wanderers forward rush'd — — The listening crowd divided as they came, And, for a space, the strife of words was hush'd — Ah ! can it be ? — it is, — it is the same ! — Their own dear son ! — his mother shriek'd his name, As sudden joy took place of grief and fear ; Ah me ! — my child, whom yet I dare not blame,— Why deal'st thou with us thus ? — what dost thou here, While we, with sorrowing hearts, have sought thee far and near ? XXXII. "To whom our Lord, with look serene and mild,— Wherefore thus seek me? — know ye not that I, E'en like a duteous and obedient child, Must do my Father's business ?" From his eye A smile broke forth like sunshine from the sky, And his whole face with love celestial glow'd, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 215 — Then straightway turn'd he, and submissively Follovv'd his joyful parents on their road, And home with them return'd, and shared their mean abode. XXXIII. There, in a poor man's cot, the Lord of Heaven In meekness and in love vouchsafed to dwell, To lowly tasks of rule parental given, — Nor once against it did in thought rebel, E'en when his heavenly heart began to swell With holiest aspirations ; — thus he grew In wisdom and in stature, loved full well By God in Heaven, — on Earth by all the few Who of his gentle life the grace and goodness knew. SECOND SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. With patient toil and thought profound, There are, who can all depths explore, And, in didactic phrase, expound The wondrous things of sacred lore. High privilege is theirs — to hold ■ The torch which lights our narrow way, And to unlearned hearts unfold The hidden life, the word, the way. 216 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. II. But woe to such ! if learned pride. Or fancy, with her restless eye, Still searching, still unsatisfied, Where holiest angels fear to pry — If bigot's hate, or zealot's ire, Corrupt the faith which God hath given To kindle in their hearts the fire That leads and lights mankind to Heaven! in. And others are there, set apart Through gifts which heavenly grace confers, To heal the bruised and sunken heart, Of peace and love blest ministers. The soothing tone — the cheering smile — The heart with kindness brimming o'er — The speech which doth all griefs beguile — The looks which banish'd peace restore — IV. The liberal hand — the patient zeal — The sympathy in darkest cares — The pleasant ways to help and heal — The death-bed solace — all are theirs ! Through this world's haunts of shame and sin With love unwearied, let them roam, Men's hearts, by gentlest lures, to win, And lead them, to their Father, home. v. Each hath his proper gift of God — His own peculiar taste assign'd — LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. '217 His path of duty to be trod — His debt of service to mankind. Do thou, in simple trust, thy part — Teach, toil, give, suffer, hope and pray, And He, who sees thy secret heart, Thy work shall bless — thy pains repay. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. Wondrous was thy path on Earth, 'Midst our human grief and mirth ; All our good, and all our ill, Feeling, Lord, yet sinless still ! ii. Though thy hand upholds the spheres, Thou could'st pity children's tears : Though to thee Death yields his prey, Thou could'st gaze on children's play. in. At our feasts of sober glee Thou would'st oft vouchsafe to be : When thou cam'st thy friend to save, Thou could'st weep beside his grave. IV. At thy bidding, social mirth And heart-gladdening cheer had birth, When thou bad'st the goblets shine With pure water turn'd to wine. 218 ' LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. V. Then, in humble love's abode, Livelier pleasure gleam'd and glow'd ; Then, from rustic lips devout, Songs of joyous praise brake out : VI. And thy glistening* eyes might see, In their blithe festivity, What our earthly feasts had been But for death and but for sin. VII. Fie on unrestrain'd excess ! Fie on hateful drunkenness ! Fie on each unhallow'd feast Whence thy love and name have ceased ! VIII. For thou still dost condescend To our hearths and homes to send Blessings on the social cheer Of the hearts that love thee here. IX. Thy transforming influence still Into good turns all our ill ; Or, from weak and worthless things, Holy joy and comfort brings. x. Sensual passion, lust obscene, Wrath and hatred fierce and keen, Thy pure presence doth transmute To the Spirit's choicest fruit. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 219 XI. When the sacred nuptial rite Doth pure heart to heart unite, Thou canst make permitted love Pure as that of saints above. XII. What to our gross sense doth seem Water of the fontal stream, Thou canst change, by power divine, To celestial milk and wine. XIII. But for thee, sin's hateful gloom Soon would make this Earth a tomb ; But where thy bright face hath shone, Grief and fear at once are gone. XIV. In thy path all things look bright, Mortal darkness turns to light, And, e'en here, our mental eye Heavenly glories may descry. xv. O be with us, gracious Lord, Near our bed and at our board, — By our fireside's pleasant cheer, When the winter nights are drear. XVI. Through the livelong summer day, When our hearts are blithe and gay, From all taint of fleshly ill Purify our gladness still. 220 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. XVII. All that doth our hearts estrange, From thy service — come and change Into fervent love of thee, By thy potent alchymy. XVIII. So that when new Heavens and Earth At thy bidding shall have birth, Purged from all our dross of sin, We may dwell with thee therein. THIRD SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. FROM THE EPISTLE. SONNET. Vengeance is mine ! saith God; I will repay; Yet would we madly arrogate His power, Worms as we are ! — poor reptiles of an hour ! And so, with many a fierce, vindictive fray, * Shake and o'erthrow our fragile homes of clay, And each his foe, with bitter rage, devour, When on his head rich blessings we should shower, And with our kindness melt his wrath away ! Thou, if thine enemy hunger, give him food, And to his thirst refreshing streams supply ; Still overcome his evil with thy good ; So, if his stubborn hate refuse to die, God shall chastise his unrelenting mood By sharp affliction's penal ministry. LAYS 01' THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 221 FROM THE GOSPEL. SONNET I. " Lord ! if thou wilt, thy power can make me clean ! " So spake the leper, and our Lord straightway Put forth his hand, and " be thou clean," did say ; — Immediately he rose with alter'd mien, For on his body might no more be seen A vestige of the plague, which, many a day, From Man's abodes had driven him far astray, To dwell w r ith dark despair and anguish keen. Thus by thy swift, mysterious grace, O Lord, Cleanse thou our fouler leprosies within, That so, from exile hateful and abhorr'd, We may at length our full deliverance win, And (to thy presence in thy Church restored) Brimpdaily gifts of love for pardon'd sin. SONNET II. With cheerful self-surrender, to rely On the sure rock of thy omnipotence ; — To rest our free, undoubting confidence, On thy deep love ; — to deem thee ever nigh ; — To know that Hell's dark hosts retreat and flv Even at thy beck ; — to feel thee our defence 222 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. When most we groan beneath the whelming sense Of our own sin — our deep iniquity ; — Is not this faith ? — the faith thou dost approve ; Such faith as dwelt in that centurion's breast, The burden of whose grief thou didst remove, Healing his servant at his meek request ? — Such faith, Lord, as still draws down thy love On homes which dare not claim thee for a guest ? SONNET III. From East and West, and North and South, shall come Unnumber'd myriads to Christ's marriage feast ; — Souls, by his gospel, from their sins released, And call'd, to His and their great Father, home ! From torrid Ind, from frigid Greenland some — A motley crowd, but in whose hearts hath ceased The empire of the demon or the beast, And peace and love have built their temple dome. But we — the children of the kingdom — we From earliest childhood train'd to truth and right, Where, at that day, if faithless, shall we be ? — Alas ! excluded from our Father's sight, For foul neglect of grace so rich and free, Gnashing our teeth in darkness day and night. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 223 FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. FROM THE EPISTLE. SONNET I. The powers that be are God's — from Him derive Their functions and their rights ; — so we maintain, O'er whom Christ doth, as willing- subjects, reign ; Whence, whosoever with such powers shall strive, Striveth with God, and doth himself contrive His own damnation. Meekly wear thy chain, Servant of Christ, nor e'er, in heart or brain, At the fierce deeds of headstrong men connive. Thine 'tis, while furious anarchs rant and rage, Filling the air with turbulence and hate, To shame the license of this latter age, Still faithful found to God and to the State ; And rendering still, with spirit meek and sage, Love to the good and honour to the great. SONNET II. Not in the foul and pestilential den Of plotting treason ; — not where brawlers meet In fierce assemblies, with seditious heat To rail at monarchs ; — not where evil men Slander the great and good with tongue and pen ; Not where, in crowded mart and public street, 224 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Vile demagogues their ribald slang repeat — Spirit of Christ ! thy presence meets our ken. Better thou lov'st the tranquil home and hearth Of those whom such mean-spirited esteem ; — The gentle and submissive of the earth, Who glide securely down life's quiet stream, Safe, in their meek and unobtrusive worth From fears which haunt the evil-doer's dream. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. With sails full spread and bending mast, Like one who bounds with glee, A fisher's bark was sailing fast Across Gennesareth's sea. Freshly and keenly blew the blast From the shore of Galilee. ii. A precious freight it was, I trow, Which that frail galley bore ; But angry waves, from stern to prow, Her deck were sweeping o'er ; And loud and louder bellow'd now The tempest's gathering roar. III. But still, as on the vessel swept Through waters foaming wild, One toil-worn man lay still and slept LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 225 As calmly as a child, Whose eyes for sin have never wept, Whose heart is undenled. IV. Full soundly slept he, — for in sooth A weary man was he ; A wanderer since his noon of youth, By land and lake and sea, To spread the rays of light and truth, Where darkness wont to be. v. Awhile that vessel's thoughtful crew Stood gazing on his rest, With awe profound and reverence due In all their looks exprest ; Till fiercer yet the tempest blew From the dark and cloudy west. VI. Then straight a fearful toil began The vessel's course to keep ; So wildly with the wind she ran O'er the black and boiling deep; — Yet still he slept (that weary man) A calm, unstartled sleep. VII. But fiercer still the surges roar'd, And fiercer blew the blast ; And now, in each bold heart on board, Dark fears were gathering fast, 8 Q 226 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. As the winds and waves their fury pour'd On shatter'd sail and mast. VIII. Then came they, in their utmost need, To where that sleeper lay ; — " Lord, sleep'st thou still and tak'st no heed- Betide our lives what may ?" They spake — and at their words, with speed, The sleeper rose straightway. IX. " Oh ! ye of little faith !"— he stood, And calmly waved his hand ; At once the tempest's wrathful mood Was hush'd at his command. And the waters, in a waveless flood, Roll'd smoothly to the strand. x. No cloud obscured the deep blue sky, No ripple curl'd the sea ; Earth, air, and water, far and nigh, Were calm as calm could be. The vessel's track you scarce might spy, She rode so peacefully. XI. The vessel's track you scarce might spy,— And yet she wins her way, With sails untorn and cordage dry, Through the smooth and smiling bay ; " Now, who is this," the shipmen cry, *' Whom the sea and the wind obey ?" LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 227 XII. Dear Lord ! a lowly life was thine, While thou with Man didst dwell ; Yet winds and waves obey'd thy sign, And knew their Maker well. Thy voice could tame, with a charm divine, All powers of Earth and Hell. XIII. Incarnate fiends, beneath thine eye, From human dwellings fled, With a terrified and wailing- cry, To the fields where swine were fed ; And the sick were heal'd at the point to die, And the graves gave up their dead. XIV. And is thy power less wondrous now ? Or is thy love less kind Than when they made Hell's demons bow, And still'd the waves and wind ? May prayer no more, and whisper'd vow, From thee such mercy find ? xv. Nay, still, though oft thou seem'st to sleep, Thy love directs the helm, And guides thy Church from deep to deep, O'er this world's billowy realm ; And a tender watch doth o'er it keep, Lest storms should overwhelm. XVI. And still do Hell's dark legions flee 228 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. From the heart where thou dost reign, And the sinner is cleansed from his leprosy, And the prisoner breaks his chain, And the soul, which was dead as dead could be, Is raised to life again. FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. FROM THE EPISTLE. SONNET I. Servants of Christ ! in men's misjudging eyes Ye seem of little price, and proud men scorn Your lowliness of heart ; but ye are born Of God, and made partakers of a prize Unknown, undream'd of by the worldly-wise, — A crown which none but saintly brows have worn , — A robe which doth Christ's wedding guests adorn, — Laid up, till His great day, beyond the skies. This shall be yours in Heaven, — but now, on Earth, Think it not strange if men account you vile ; Nor seek their plaudits, vain and nothing worth, Nor quail at this world's frown, nor court its smile, Clouding the glories of your own new birth With such gross aims as sensual hearts defile. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 229 SONNET II. Soldiers and patriots ! votaries of the vine ! And brain-sick lovers ! ye have each your lay, Martial or melting, wanton, grave, or gay, As best befits each several idol's shrine ; The drunkard shouts wild catches o'er his wine ; The lover sighs his passionate soul away In tenderest ditties ; and, while trumpets bray, Fierce war-son^s animate the charging: line. Each mood and humour of the sensual mind Hath its appropriate music ; — and can we, Chosen of Christ, and by his love design'd To join hereafter heaven's high minstrelsy, Fail, here on earth, for our great theme to find Numbers, or words, or fitting melody ? SONNET III. (CONTINUED). Nay ! — to the organ wed the voice of song, And let the potent master of sweet sound, Majestic Handel, till the sense be drown'd In dream-like rapture, heavenliest strains prolong ! While the full chorus of the white-robed throng Doth from the dim cathedral's roof rebound ! Nor yet, with censure harsh, the less profound And tuneful skill of village minstrels wron<r : 230 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. The heart alone makes melody to Heaven Such as it loves ; and ang-els oft are mute, While simplest words of praise for sin forgiven. Sung to rude notes of viol, pipe, and flute, From parish choir, at Sabbath morn and even, With grateful hymns the Omnipotent salute. SONNET IV. There are, whose faith is as a thing remote From the world's common use ; who, day by day, Must from their narrow rule of duty stray, For that, as worldly and misspent, they note All hours which men to this world's cares devote, — All labours and all pleasures — work and play — Save what may speed the spirit on its way O'er the calm waves of prayer and praise afloat. Not such, O Lord, the lessons thou hast taught — Not such thy law of worship undefiled ; For that pervades all action and all thought — The man's grave toils, the pastimes of the child, Bids us eat, drink, work, sport, as Christians ought, Whom thy dear blood to God hath reconciled. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 231 FROM THE GOSPEL. SONNET. 'Twere pleasant to true Christians, when they meet At their dear Master's board, to know that there All hearts, with one accord, combine in prayer Deep, pure, sincere, before Heaven's mercy-seat, Aright discerning what they drink and eat. Nor some to taunt our English Church forbear, For that she guards, say they, with slender care, Her altars from approach of reckless feet. Such laxity to error is akin ; Yet error — all, like this, on mercy's side, Methinks, can scarce deserve the brand of sin ; For who, without dire mischief, shall divide From the pure wheat, till it be gather'd in, The tares, their roots extending deep and wide ? SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY. FROM THE EPISTLE. SONNET I. Diverse in clime and country, wealth and birth, Lowly and lofty, rich and poor are we, Brethren, in Christ, of one great family — Heirs to a treasure of uncounted worth In Heaven, yet oft dishonour'd here on Earth, 232 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. For that men know us not — too blind to see That inner light's serene effulgency Which cheers the humblest Christian's home and hearth. Yet fear we not their scorn, nor shun their hate, Knowing that love, eternal and divine, Even here hath raised us to a higher state Than this world to its noblest can assign ; If to be sons of God is to be great Beyond the greatness of Earth's princeliest line. SONNET II. (CONTINUED.) Yes ! — we are sons of God, though still beset By sorrow and infirmity and sin, Fightings without, and grievous fears within ; And oft with bitter tears our cheeks are wet. Such are we now ; nor may we guess as yet What we shall be, when (this world's stormy din Once ended) we our final rest shall win, Where souls redeem 'd all earthly griefs forget : But this we know, that when He shall appear Who is our life — whatever change shall be In these frail bodies we inhabit here — In these weak souls not yet from bondage free — We shall be like Him — since, unveil'd and near, Even as He is, our Master we shall see. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 233 SONNET III. (CONTINUED.) Such is our hope, which maketh not ashamed", Our souls sustaining- with that daily bread Whereon the cold dull world hath never fed • By all but saints, unseen, unknown, unnamed ; Then let not such for carnal sloth be blamed In their high calling, but, till lust be dead, Their master's path of self-denial tread ; To his high model let their lives be framed. So, strength from Him deriving, let them wage Unceasing war with still unvanquish'd sin, Quelling the lusts that in their members rage, Till by degrees they cleanse the world within, And, in the Book of Life's eternal page, Triumphantly their high enrolment win. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. In patient faith, till Christ shall come To call his duteous servants home, Our hearts and minds we keep ; Still looking for that glorious day When Heaven and Earth shall melt away And saints awake from sleep. ii. And still — as years roll swiftly by, And signs fulfill'd of prophecy 234 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Declare Christ's coming near — O'er Heaven and Earth our spirits range, Noting if signs of coming change, And brighter days appear, in. And signs there be, in this late time, Once more of hope's reviving prime, As in redemption's morn ; The feverous earth doth shake again, Groaning and travailing in pain, Till some new change be born. IV. And still, as empires reel and quake, Doth longing expectation wake In questions deep engross'd ; Seeking the place, the day, the hour, Of Christ's approach in all his power, With heaven's abundant host. v. Vain search ! — yet vainer and less blest Is theirs who would our faith molest With fancies strange and new ; False prophets who men's hearts deceive, For dark and slippery paths to leave The ancient and the true. VI. We will not heed them, though they preach False Christs with most persuasive speech, And godless gospels frame, Well skill'd the unstable to beguile, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 235 In freedom's name, themselves the while Sworn slaves of sin and shame ! VII. " Lo ! here" — the sensual zealots cry — 11 Is man's supreme felicity; — Leave dreaming" and be wise ; Pleasure and love's free laws obey, Nor cast Earth's solid joys away For hopes beyond the skies. VIII. " Man's full-grown mind hath burst its prison- On superstition's night hath risen The wish'd for dawn of truth ; Nations and empires break the sleep Of centuries, and from darkness leap To life and hope and youth. IX. " Indulge the fond conceits no more Which fed the heart, ere yet was o'er The childhood of our race ; Unheard let priests and poets tell Fantastic tales of Heaven and Hell ! — Be Earth our resting place ! x. " Let reason's sober light dispel The dreams that nature loved so well — Whatever young* fancy drew : Her shadowy world at once destroy, Nor barter for ideal joy The tangible and true." 236 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. XI. So let them prate ! — we will not heed The dogmas of their loveless creed, Nor cast our hope away ; But calmly still in patience rest, Till, lightning-like, from east to west Breaks in the promised day. XII. With no unheedful hearts we hear The mutterings of convulsion near, And terror soon to be ; Hosts gathering for the final strife Of light and darkness, death and life, With breathless awe we see. XIII. We know that fearful darkness soon Shall veil the face of sun and moon, The stars forsake their spheres ; — The powers of heaven, with fear aghast, Tremble and quake, until at last Christ's sign in heaven appears, xiv. Then Earth's rebellious tribes shall wail, And sinful hearts with terror fail ; While saints despised so long, From east and west, and south and north, By angel trumpets summon'd forth — Raise one triumphant song. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 237 SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. Ceaseless is the race we run — All who live beneath the sun, For some tinsel prize of earth, Hardly won and little worth, Brother striving* still with brother — Fain within his breast to smother Rage and hate, and jealous fear ; — So we toil from year to year ; Some for wealth in gold and gems, Some for gorgeous diadems ; Some, a rival to beguile Of capricious beauty's smile ; Some to win the warrior's name ; Some to share the poet's fame ; Some, perchance, to guide the helm Of the toss'd and foundering realm : But amidst the toil and din, Few, I guess, there be that win ; Thousands still, who faint and fall, Ere the wish'd-for coronal Round their fever'd brows they twine ; — Thus doth manhood waste and pine, While the sweets which life imparts To discerning minds and hearts, 238 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Unperceived around us lie, Waste their sweetness, droop and die And our haste no pause allows With Heaven's gale to fan our brows, Of the wayside brook to drink, Or, beside the fountain's brink Stretch'd awhile, the breath inhale . Of the fresh and flower-sweet gale ; Or to bless our aching eyes With the beauty of the skies, And the glories which have birth In the fresh and fragrant earth ; Or, reclined beneath the shade By thick-clustering arches made, To life's joyous sounds to listen, Till our eyes with pleasure glisten, And a voice within replies To those outward harmonies, With a silent song of love — Silent here — but heard above ! Few there be who loiter so In this restless race below ; Few who gladden soul and sense With this world's magnificence ; Fewer who such freedom win From the bonds of lust and sin, That, with an untroubled ear, They the distant music hear, Which the spirits of the blest Make in their eternal rest. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 239 So it is in this strange earth — ■ Outward wealth makes inward dearth. Labour drains the spirit dry, Fades the cheek, and dims the eye — Labour and fierce strife to win Food for lust and food for sin ; — So we waste our actual store, While we vainly brawl for more ; Envying- still, and still contending, In turmoil that knows no ending ; Restless, though our cup we fill, While Earth holds a fuller still : Sad, though we an empire gain, While more potent monarchs reign. Yet was ever earthly crown Which grim death could not beat down ? — Gold which we could hoard and save In the chambers of the grave ? — Beauty by no change invaded, Which nor time nor sickness faded ? — Is not all we love so well, Like ourselves, corruptible ? — Do we not, for worthless things, Barter the delight that springs From the soul's eternal health ? — Still exchanging peace for wealth, — Wearing out the life and strength — Only to possess at length, Through our endless toil and care. Raiment for the flesh to wear 240 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. When the flesh itself is wasted- Food, then only to be tasted When no more the exhausted sense Can discern its excellence ? Brethren ! meet it is that we Wiser far and happier be ; — Wiser than to waste, on earth, All its bliss and all its mirth, That, for life-long- pains and cost Heaven and it may both be lost. Yet have we a race to run, — Glory — to be lost or won, Brighter than, since earth began, Cheer'd the waking sense of man, Or, in nightly visions, stole On the slumbers of his soul. Sharp that race to sensual flesh, Though the spirit may be fresh ; And, until its toil hath ceased, Still our vigour is increased ; While — as nearer still we come To our goal and to our home — Lovelier landscapes round us glow, Sweeter breezes breathe and blow, Brighter sunshine cheers our eyes, And the choral symphonies Of the heavenly legions ring Audibly our welcoming. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 241 Wouldst thou win yon heavenly crown ? — Christian, tame thy spirit down ; Loiter not in sensual bowers, Flush'd with wine and crown'd with flowers ; Nor of Cornus and his train Join the revels wild and vain. Let not love's delicious play Steal thy soul and sense away, Till thou canst no longer learn Wisdom's lessons pure and stern. Pleasure's cup may luscious be, But it is not mix'd for thee. If thou wouldst thy spirit train For its heavenly race, refrain From whate'er regalements bring- Foul excess and surfeiting. Keep each power of heart and will Clear, and free, and vigorous still. Though thy toil be sharp and sore. Soon, full soon, it will be o'er, And thy weary brain and breast Taste of Heaven's eternal rest. 242 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. Through the world's frequented places — Busy street and broad high- way — Midst the throng- of human faces, Year by year and day by day — Wisdom's earnest voice is calling To the slaves whom sloth and sin Hold, in sensual chains enthralling, " Come ye, to my vineyard, in !" ii. Happy, in life's cloudless morning, Yea, of all men happiest they Who receive that heavenly warning, Hear it and at once obey ! They, ere lust hath dimm'd the splendour Of the opening world within — Ere the heart hath grown less tender, — Break the bonds of sense and sin. in. Them no sore avulsion rendeth From this world's vain hopes and fears ; No unheal'd remembrance blendeth Anguish with their after years. Time by them hath ne'er been wasted ; — Ere life's tempting paths they trod, — Ere life's poison'd cup they tasted, — They became the sons of God. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 243 IV. Them no storm of woe compelleth To their Father's arms to flee ; In their hearts His Spirit dwelleth Richly e'en from infancy. Christ to love's unceasing duty Them with silken cords constrains, And with gleams of heavenly beauty Soothes their sorrows, charms their pains, v. Happy they ! but few in number ! — Till mid age the millions lie Wrapt in dreams of sensual slumber, While life's brightest hours go by. Them, amidst their cares or pleasures, Wisdom's voice again invites ; " Come — secure your heavenly treasures, Flee from Earth's impure delights !" VI. Some there be who heed and hearken, Cast their worthless gauds away, Ere life's noon begins to darken, Shade by shade, to twilight grey. Wealth to them becomes a bubble, Honour but an empty name ; — Farewell now life's toil and trouble, Fraud and folly, sin and shame ! VII. Nobler hopes have stirr'd within them, Loftier aims engage the breast ; 244 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Heaven and heavenly labours win them From this feverish world's unrest. They the better part have chosen, Late, but not too late to toil ; Years not yet the heart have frozen, Though rank weeds o'erspread its soil. VIII. Noon hath past ; — life's fervour waneth ; O'er the temperate heart and will Sensual lust less blindly reigneth, Yet the spirit slumbereth still. Wisdom's voice again upbraideth — " Haste — life's sun will soon go down Ere its light for ever fadeth, Wake and win your heavenly crown." IX. Fainter now that voice appeareth, Yet it will not cease to plead, Till the awaken'd sleeper heareth, Till his heart is touch'd indeed. From life's evening rest he starteth, Eager some few hours to save (Ere the time for work departeth) From the darkness of the grave. x. Eve is gone; — grey twilight's glimmer Veileth life's cold cloudy sky ; — Soul and sense are now grown dimmer,— Fadeth ear and heart and eye. In the wreck of thought and feeling LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 245 Earthly love is waxing cold ; Yet are Wisdom's accents stealing To the soul in sin grown old. XI. Lo ! — the hoary sinner turneth Feebly to the awakening sound ; In his heart strange fervour burneth, Love hath sin's strong chain unwound. Little hath he now to proffer, — Time and strength and health are gone ; — What remains behold him offer — " Lord ! in me thy will be done !" XII. Yea ! even so : — thy ways, O Father ! Are not as our mortal ways ; Thou canst life's whole harvest gather From its worst and weakest days. To thy just decision bending, At thy feet our works we cast ; Though, in bliss all thought transcending, Last be first, and first be last ! SONNET. FROM THE SAME. Our lot hath fallen upon the latter time— The cloudless evening of the Church's day ; Whose burden and fierce heat have past away, That scarce we need that faith and zeal sublime. Which, in her pure and persecuted prime, 246 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Taught tender maids and matrons old and grey, Smiling defiance in death's grim array, To the proud heights of martyrdom to climb. Beneath our fig-trees and our vines we dwell At ease. — What claim then to their bliss have we Who with the fiercest powers of Earth and Hell Warr'd, and so won their immortality? Ask not: — but wage thine own poor warfare well — E'en as thy striving thy reward shall be. SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. SONNET. Thou wouldst have been, had all thy hopes died here, Of mortal men most wretched, Holy Paul ! For thou didst cast away thine earthly all — Wealth, comfort, reputation bright and clear, Yea, whatsoever carnal men hold dear, To be what, in their blindness, they miscall A low fanatic, — superstition's thrall, Then most contemptible when most sincere. The Gentile sophist mock'd thy simple creed, The bigot Jew pursued thee with fierce hate ; E'en faithless brethren, in thine utmost need, Forsook thee ; — thou, meanwhile, didst calmly wait God's time, content on Earth to toil and bleed, Till martyrdom should ope Heaven's narrow gate. LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 247 FROM THE GOSPEL. I. God ! who dost the increase grant To thy labourers here below, When they water, when they plant, When the Heavenly seed they sow ; Bless, O Father, bless our toil, With the sunshine of thy face ; — Fertilize this barren soil With the dews of love and grace. ii. Thine the harvest, thine the praise, When the crops are gathered in, Which, with life-long pains we raise In this world of shame and sin. Where we sow 'tis thine to reap — All our days are seed-time here ; — Ceaselessly at work we keep, Month by month and year by year, in. Spring and autumn toil we still — Through the long midsummer light ; Through the winter, dark and chill, Scattering seed from morn till night. Now, with zeal's persuasive power, Life-infusing truth we preach ; Now, for many a patient hour, In the village schoolroom teach. 248 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. IV. Oft beside the social hearth Stealthily the seed we sow, — Oft when hearts are light with mirth — Oftener when oppress'd with woe. Times and seasons watch we still — Still the best occasions seek, When to bend the stubborn will, When the awakening word to speak. v. So we toil, but toil in vain When the dews of grace are dry ; When the fertilizing rain Lingers in the drouthy sky. Now in rocky soils we sow — Hearts from Heaven so far astray, That, or ere the blade can grow, Satan steals the seed away. VI. Some in light and shallow mould Doth, with fairer promise, fall, — Ardent minds and uncontroll'd — Sensitive — but weak withal. Such, anon, with joy embrace, Hear and ponder, weep and pray, Till — when trouble shews its face — Straight their flimsy faith gives way. VII. Other seed in deeper soil Sinks, and takes abiding root ; LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 249 But rank thorns the produce spoil, Choke and mar the genuine fruit. Worldly care and lust and pride, Wealth and luxury creep in, Till the life of life hath died, Stifled by insidious sin. VIII. Thou, the harvest's sovereign Lord ! For the seed the soil prepare, Sun and rain and dews afford, Till the wish'd-for crop it bear. Good and honest hearts create, Swift to hear and firm to hold ; Make our tillage, soon or late, Bring forth fruit an hundred-fold. QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY. FROM THE GOSPEL. I. Twas when our Lord was journeying tow'rd stately Jericho, And multitudes around his path did gather still and grow ; For wondrous were the words he spake — pure words of truth and grace, And all the love of Earth and Heaven was beaming from his face ; And miracles of healing might his blessed hand had done, 250 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Proclaiming" Him, to faithful eyes, the Lord's anointed Son. ii. Now as he to the city gate, in earnest speech, drew nigh, A blind man sat beside the road, and begg'd of passers by ; He heard the hum of multitudes — the myriad-footed tread — And in his darkness, anxiously, " What meaneth this ?" he said ; — " What mean these sounds of thronging crowds?" — and thus men made reply — " Jesus, the blessed Nazarene — 'tis He who passeth by." III. Then suddenly a gleam of light shot through the beggar's mind, His inward eye was lighten'd, and his heart no longer blind ; Faith brought him back the world without, in bliss- ful vision shown, And said it might, by Heaven's rich grace, become once more his own. So straight he raised his eager voice, and piteously cried he — : ' Jesus! thou Son of David! have mercy upon me!" IV. His cry disturb'd the listening groupes, the fore- most in the way — LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 251 " Now hold thy peace, bold beggar — trouble not our Lord," said they. But little heeded he their words, for in his mental eye Familiar faces — youthful scenes, long lost, were passing by ; And still he raised his earnest voice, and piteously cried he — " Jesus ! thou Son of David ! have mercy upon me !" v. Our Lord stood still, and fix'd on him a mild, ap- proving glance, Till the blind man felt the sunshine of his beaming countenance ; — " Forbid him not, but rather guide his steps to me," he said, — And the beggar to his presence straight by pitying- hands was led ; And as he knelt before Him, with raised hands and bended knee — " Tell me," he said, " what wilt thou that I should do for thee ?" VI. That voice of heavenly mercy through the blind man's bosom thrill'd As sweetly as the dew of Heaven on Hermon's brow distill'd. He felt the pressure of the grief that on his spirit lay, But felt that soon, at His dear word, that grief would pass away ; 252 LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. Nor paused he for a moment's space, but cried, in deep delight, " Lord ! this I would — that, from thy hand, I might receive my sight !" VII. " Receive thy sight," our Lord replied, — " thy faith hath made thee whole" — And the blind man rose, with sight restored to body and to soul ; And blithely in his Saviour's track, with eager steps, he trod, And bless'd him for his healing grace, and glorified his God. — And all the crowds, that throng'd around, with echoing hearts replied — " Our God, and Jesus Christ, his Son, for this be glorified !" ASH WEDNESDAY. FROM THE EPISTLE. I. When our hearts with grief are sore, When our path looks dark and sad, When Hope's star appears no more, When our foes are proud and glad- When our steps have gone astray, Till we feel the chastening rod, LAYS OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH. 253 Wherefore should the godless say — •' Where is now their God ?" ii. In our grief of heart is He — In the darkness of our path — Him in Hope's eclipse we see, Robed in mercy, not in wrath. Thus he warns us from the way — Sins wild way, which we have trod ; — Why should then the godless say — " Where is now their God ?" in. While in this dark world we roam, Out of sight His judgments lie ; Stay till we have reach'd our home — That bright home beyond the sky. When, in Time's last awful day, We of Earth throw off the sod- How shall then the godless say — k ' Where is now their God?" SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS CANTO I. I. Tis Sunday morn ! — a summer Sunday morn ! — And should be full of sunshine, for July, Queen of the circling months, to-day is born ; Yet o'er yon mountain peaks, which pierce the sky, Dark louring clouds in densest masses lie, Which though, all night, the rain in torrents pour'd, Seem yet unspent, and to the inquiring eye A dark presage of coming storms afford — Signs to wayfaring wight most hateful and abhorr'd ! ii. But not, though skies should lour or tempests rage, To-day must Brodick's sturdy mountaineer Grudge through the grimmest moors stout pil- grimage ; For 'tis that single Sunday in the year, When crowds together flock, from far and near, Around the holy board to take their seat ; 258 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. And 'twere a shameless thing to loiter here, While friends and brethren, flocks and pastors meet In Kirk of far Lamlash, to bless that bread and eat. in. Unhappy he whom sickness now detains Close pent in bed, or crouching o'er his fire, Safe from the gathering war of winds and rains ; And he whose aged limbs no more aspire To thrid the mountain moors and never tire ; And she, whom nursery or domestic cares Forbid to satisfy her heart's desire, By mingling, with the Kirk's, her vows and prayers. — Ah ! — well-a-day for them ! — a dismal lot is theirs ! IV. No more for them, till full twelve months are o'er, With heavenly food that table shall be spread ; For them the cup divine be fill'd no more, Nor blest, nor broken the mysterious bread, E'en though they lay upon their dying bed. So Calvinistic rigour hath decreed ; Withholding that by which the soul is fed From saintly sufferers in their utmost need ; — Ah I better far her sons doth our dear Mother feed ! v. Solemn and sweet thy monthly feasts, I ween, Church of our fathers ; yet even they too few ; Better, by far, and w 7 iser had it been, Thy children's faith each Sunday to renew, SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 259 And with fresh strength their fainting" souls en- due ; So best the ancient Apostolic rites Maintaining still in form and order due ; Yet dear thy call which to that board invites, Which all pure hearts with all,andall in One, unites ! VI. Yea, sweet thy monthly feasts ! — yet scarce than these Less sweet the board in sick man's chamber spread, Where weeping friends and children on their knees Are meekly gather'd round the dying bed ; And tears, almost into the chalice shed, The o'er-burden'd hearts full agony relieve, While each and all the mystic wine and bread From pastoral hands, in pious faith, receive, Nor now, like hopeless men, for death's new victim grieve. VII. No comforts, such as these, Scotland, cheer Thy saints in life's last moments ; — yet not this Speak »we in scorn ; — the dying mountaineer By custom school'd, and strong in hope of bliss, May ne'er, perchance, the last dear ritual miss, Whereby the expiring Southron well sustains His parting soul ; — nor thou account amiss The rites which soften death in English plains, As though they proved us bound even now in Popish chains. 260 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. VIII. Such thoughts yon stout pedestrian's breast have cross'd, Who climbs, with steady pace and stedfast will, That mountain path, and tow'rd the peaks,half lost In eddying clouds, looks back, admiring still; For vaster far seems each majestic hill Through the dense veil of mist which sweeps away Distinctness from its outline, and each rill, Swoln to a foaming cataract to-day, Makes music, loud and wild, to cheer him on his way. IX. A wanderer he from England's midland vales, Wooing sweet health in this fair wilderness, Where, shunning the soft breath of southern Which him with suffocation sore oppress, He finds secure relief from long distress ; And now a glad and mirthful man is he, And doth the waves and breezy mountains bless That they from that dire plague have set him free, 'Neath which, since early youth, he groan'd per- petually. x. O thou unhappy wight, whoe'er thou art, Whom the bright skies and balmy gales torment With toil of lungs and weariness of heart, SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 261 Till thou, almost with lack of breath o'erspent To barter life for ease wouldst be content — Throw physic to the dogs ; — not opium's power, Nor the inhaled stramonium's reeky scent, Nor subtlest ether will, for one brief hour, Soothe the convulsive gasps which strength and life devour. XI. Nor to the lancet bare thy passive arm, Nor to the blister ope thy labouring breast ; Vain all their spells the dire disease to charm, Or scare the incumbent vampyre from thy chest ; Nor yet will pill, persuasive to digest, Nor snuff prepared by skill of Lundy Foot, Nor ipecacuanha give thee rest, (Expectorative drug) — nor rhubarb's root Provoking nausea dire, and cholic pangs to boot. XII. Long were the labour, in melodious verse, The nostrums strange prescribed by quack and crone, (Nauseous alike, and poisonous) to rehearse ! Abominable things — untried — unknown ! One remedy there is, and one alone ;— Come, breathe the mountain breezes pure and free, Climb once a week old Goatfell's craggy cone, Bathe once a day in Brodick's crystal sea, — Full soon, from spells like these, the baffled fiend will flee. 262 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. XIII. Haply some grim Hippocrates hath starved Thy craving stomach with prescription drear, All pleasant meats forbidding to be carved For thee, nor e'en permitting thee to cheer Thy drooping spirits with the smallest beer — (Thee, little to abstemious rules inclined ;) Come then — spare diet may be spared thee here, Nor need'st thou dread on dainties to have dined, If dainties thou shalt chance in this lean isle to find. XIV. But where is he, our lone wayfaring wight, Whom late we left upon the mountain side ? Through the wild moors he plods from height to height, Surveying still the landscape far and wide ; Though little there, to-day, can be descried, So thick and dark the clouds around him lour ; Yet will he dare, all cloakless, to abide The utmost rage of driving wind and shower, So strong and proud he feels in health's recover'd power. xv. And sorely would his soul be grieved, I ween, To miss that solemn spectacle to-day ; To him a new, though not unheard of scene ; Used as he is in English forms to pray, And England's rule episcopal obey ; — A presbyter himself, as from the dress SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 263 Clerkly and grave, which doth his limbs array, And eke from his demeanour you may guess, Albeit, in this strict land, convict of carelessness. xv. For he, untaught in puritanic school, And little heedful of the forms that bind The subjects grave of presbyterian rule, Walks, as his fancy leads him, unconfined By pedant laws in body as in mind ; Nor deems it unbecoming pastoral state His pleasure by the lone sea-side to find, Or e'en with timely mirth to recreate His spirits, sunk sometimes by care's oppressive weight. XVII. Ah ! reckless man, and all unfit to bear The scrutiny of keen domestic eyes ! Now whistling, as he walks, with absent air, Now singing (if perchance an infant cries) Wild nursery rhymes and heathenish lullabies ; Unconscious ail the while what scandal thence Among the simple mountaineers shall rise; — Scandal most foul, and unforeseen offence, Branding his church and him with righteous ve- hemence ! XVIII. But worst of all — provoking direst wrath — His Southron scorn of Scottish sabbath-day ! For, kirk-ward as he climbs the mountain path, He, with his cane, full oft doth prostrate lay 264 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. The thistle-heads that grow beside the way ; And eke, descending once the gallery stair, Was heard (as all the congregation say) To hum aloud a Psalm's remember'd air ; — Such crime, in Scottish kirk, could shameless Southron dare ! XIX. But now, midway on yonder steep ascent Halting awhile, he views with curious eyes Groups from each quarter of the firmament Converging, numberless as summer flies — In cart, in car, of every shape and size, Afoot— on horseback ; — grandames old and grey, In sober mutch and cloak of tartan dyes, By sons or grandsons in their best array, In vehicles close-pack'd, help'd forward on their way. xx. And there are sturdy swains on bony jades, In low grave converse journeying side by side ; And there are comely youths and comelier maids, The future bridegroom with his plighted bride ; Bare-headed she and bare-foot — the close plaid* Shielding her gentle bosom from the rain ; Her braided locks confined, in decent pride, With virgin snood, which must unloosed remain Till she, in wedlock's bonds, a holier name shall gain. * Pronounced, in Scotland, plide. SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 265 XXI. Graceful her garb, and passing well doth suit Her native mountains; yet, to Southron eye, Unpleasing is the soil'd and shoeless foot, Which through the mire its daily toil doth ply, Heedless alike if it be wet or dry — And haply swathed in rag's unseemly fold, Telling dark tales that underneath doth lie Afflictive corn, or blain produced by cold — Most hateful to conceive — most hideous to behold ! XXII. Dear to the youthful poet's phantasy Is female foot, in dream or vision seen ; The well-turn'd ankle's shapely symmetry — The skin's soft texture and its snowy sheen ; But adverse all to phantasy, I ween, The sun-burnt limb by highland lassie shown — Not plump, soft, white, but muscular and lean. A ponderous mass of sinew, skin, and bone — Broad — bulky — to rude shape, thro' long exposure, grown. XXIII. O maidens, richly with all else endow'd, Healthy in mind and body, pure and free As the clear stream, or as the wandering cloud, Which swathes the mountains where ye love to be, — Hide but in shoes, what few unshod would see, And ye by many a poet shall be sung In worthier lays than e'er were penn'd by me, 266 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. A wedded bard, and now no longer young, Who roam, with heart unscathed, your pastoral glens among. XXIV. Strange, of a truth, that o'er these rocky ways Women alone with naked feet should fare ! W T hile the rough Gael his nether man arrays In fleecy garb, nor ventures now to bare His hardier skin to cutting mountain air ; Ah ! why should he alone such luxury know, When gentle maids, the fearless and the fair, Barelegg'd o'er rugged peaks securely go, Nor heed what hurts assail the unprotected toe ? XXV. But they perchance, in bareness of attire, With their own treeless mountains aptly vie, And 'twere, in us, as idle to desire In northern clime the cloudless southern sky, As to expect, in Gaelic damselry, The trimness of an English maiden's dress ; The hose of cotton woof and snowy dye — The polish'd shoe, which closely doth compress The small and delicate foot's minuter shapeliness. XXVI. And who the pure simplicity shall blame Of Highland maiden, when in mountain stream Knee-deep immersed, she bareth without shame Her dainty limbs to the meridian beam, Faultless in shape, and white as whitest cream, — — First glancing round lest stranger eyes be near, SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 267 (Though curst were he who any ill should dream Gazing on her) — then swift as mountain deer Plungeth into the burn, and crosseth without fear ? XXVII. Or who, with frown censorious, would impeach The mysteries grave and deep of laundress skill, When the white linen with bare feet they bleach, In tub which they with purest water fill From the clear depths of neighbouring tarn or rill, Trampling the soaking mass with maiden mirth, And thus their daily task performing still ; Fashion most strange to maids of English birth — The daintiest race and eke the proudest upon Earth ! XXVIII. Blessings on both, the Saxon and the Gael ! The maid of highland hut and English cot ! The glory of the glen and of the vale ! To each her separate charms let Truth allot ; For praise is blame when it exalteth not, Save by disparagement of others good ; And let the poet's lay be soon forgot, Who, in sarcastic or contemptuous mood, Shall mar the equal fame of British womanhood. XXIX. But we, methinks, have wander'd all too long From the grave tenour of our purposed theme ; Back from thy flights discursive, O my song, To where our wanderer, lost in thoughtful dream, Through the bleak moor, across the mountain stream, 268 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. Up to the topmost point hath wound his way, Which to retreat before him long did seem ; And now discerns, far off, Lamlash's bay, And hears its breakers roar, and sees their glittering spray. XXX. Not loth is he to mark his journey's end, Bedevv'd with Scottish mist for many a mile ; And soon, with quieken'd footstep, doth descend The downward slope, contemplating meanwhile The pyramid abrupt of Holy Isle Cresting the narrow strait which girds the shore, And now, thro' flooded creek, and cove, and kyle, Doth, in full tide, its swelling surges pour, And sweep the ribb'd sea sand with thundering rush and roar. XXXI. Not tame the view to eyes long used to gaze On England's level meads and hedgerows green, And streams meandering through their sluggish maze, And waving woods, whose foliage dark between Tall spires up-pointing to the skies are seen, And stately mansions their proud summits rear O'er sunny slopes ; — yet doth this sea-girt scene Meagre and mean and spiritless appear To favour'd swains who dwell in Brodick's moun- tain sphere. XXXII. For there, begirt by Nature's noblest forms, SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 269 Doth Caledonia's genius proudly dwell In the mid region of the winds and storms, Enthroned on cloudy peak and pinnacle ; While, far below, the ocean-surges swell, Laving a shore with spreading woods o'ergrown; For Ait hath there bestow'd her labour well, And o'er the glens a leafy verdure thrown, " While here, in barren state, doth Nature reign alone. — XXXIII. — In barren state, nor that with grandeur graced Of form or outline; — upward from the sea Slopes the bare coast, bleak, featureless, and waste, A mountain tract — yet void of majesty ; Such as, from time to time, sore vex'd, we see In Scottish region, with unpleasant change Succeeding to the beauty, bold and free, Of lake, and rocky glen, and mountain range, Of aspect ever new, and form abrupt and strange. XXXIV. Nor yet more cheerful, to an English eye, The long, straight village, which no rustic taste Hath toil'd, with patient skill, to beautify; Where never yet the cot's outside was graced By woodbine, with dark ivy interlaced, Nor rose nor lily did the air perfume ; Nor e'er was porch by clematis embraced, Nor e'er did jasmine round the windows bloom, And from its silver cups shed fragrance thro' the room. 270 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. XXXV. Strange seems it that, in region far renown'd For horticultural skill, such lack should be Of decoration, rife on English ground, E'en in the mean abodes of penury ; Where little else, save cleanliness, we see That tells of comfort ; — and not small amends Yields it for lack of mountain majesty, That neatness there on poverty attends, And industry and taste together dwell like friends. xxxvi. But lovelier yet than ivy-mantled cot, Or garden musical with hum of bees, The grey Church tower on green sequester'dspot, Half hidden by its dark embowering trees, With merry bells that fill the evening breeze With music best befitting English vales; — O ! might such temples grace such glens as these ! ! might such music on these mountain gales Repeat to Highland hearts their sweet and solemn tales ! XXX VII. But vain the wish ! for here, on hill, in glen, Religion wears her simplest, rudest dress, Spurning each fond device of carnal men To clothe her in external gracefulness : And well doth Scottish architect impress On stone and morter the severest jruise Of the old Orthodox unloveliness, SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 271 Offending vain Episcopalian eyes With kirks of hideous shape, proportion, hue, and size. XXXVIII. Scarce more perversely doth Wesleyan pile, Such as in English village we behold, With ostentatious ugliness defile The beauty of the land, in contrast bold Rearing its front near church of Gothic mould, As though in scorn of what fond hearts revere — The grace and grandeur of the days of old — The shrines by ancient piety held dear, Where saintliest knees have knelt in faith and love sincere. XXXIX. And, for the music of the belfry chime, One sullen bell in Scottish kirk doth hang, The call to prayer, at stated service time, Reverberating hoarse with iron clang : But never here the mountain echoes rang With wedding peal, whose merry silver sound, In sweeter notes than ever Syren sang, Told its fond tale of bliss and love profound, Which cavern, rock and hill repeated round and round. XL. Nor ever here on ear expectant broke The knell which told a neighbour's soul had fled, Conveying, with its sad and solemn stroke, Brief message to the living from the dead ; 272 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. Bidding them think how swift life's current sped, How near the summons to the judgment throne, How short the passage to the wormy bed, How none could know when that might be their own — How death's sharp sting is heal'd by Christian faith alone. XLI. Such customs, long with Popish rites combined, Doth Scotland's rigorous kirk hold Popish still, — Abominations once, even here, enshrined, As, of old time, in heathen grove and hill, The principalities and powers of 111 ; • And, tho' they speak to nature's heart of heart, And oft, with holiest glow, men's spirits fill, She from her children keeps them far apart, As hellish snares devised by Rome's malignant art. XLII. Even be it so ! — from Scotland's simple shrines Still let her simpler psalms to Heaven ascend, While the wind, whistling thro' the mountain pines, Doth to the strain accordant music lend, With which their thundering voices cataracts blend ; But where, on English plains, cathedral spire Lifts its tall height, let organ-peal attend With notes symphonious the full chaunting choir, SUNDAY IX THE MOUNTAINS. 273 Whose anthems breathe to heaven the heavenly soul's desire. XLIII. And be the graceful garniture retain'd Of cunning workmanship in stone and wood, And fair large window, gothic-shaped and stain'd With richest dyes, thro' which, in glareless flood, Streams the dim light ; — and still let scarf and hood, And surplice white, and academic gown Enrobe her priests, the gracious and the good, Well-train'd and arm'd to beat proud error down, And spread religion's reign and learning's fair re- nown. XLIV. Time was when Church with Kirk, — Geneva cloak With robe and mitre, in fierce wrath have striven, And love's pure law, with mutual rancour, broke, Till, in the name and for the sake of Heaven, The holiest bonds of Earth were rent and riven ; But time and wiser thoughts have quell'd that fray ; Let each by turns forgiving and forgiven, And each forbearing each, await the day, W T hen truth, more clearly seen, shall drive debate away. XL v. Each needs her strength, in this distemper'd age, For other conflicts ; — around either wait C T 274 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. The sceptic's scoff, the atheist's impious rage, The hot sectarian's indissembled hate, The cold half-friendship of the wavering State, The brawling demagogue's coarse, ribald yell, The lust of plunder with fierce hope elate ; Sad is their doom, in Kedar's tents to dwell, 'Midst enemies to peace who 'gainst all good rebel ! XLVI. Here pause we, — for the swiftly gathering crowd Thro' the church doors are thronging, and the rain, From the dark bosom of yon thunder-cloud, In big round drops falls audibly amain ; Safe shelter found, our wayfarer is fain, As best he may, his garments drench'd to dry ; There let him rest, observing, till again Our song begin, with grave, attentive eye, Whate'er, to him, new sights to-day he may espy. SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. CANTO II. I. Sweet ! to the wanderer's heart, in foreign land, Whate'er reminds him of that spot of earth Where the tall trees which shade his dwelling stand — The evening light which glimmers round his hearth — The chamber which beheld his children's birth — The Church, within whose walls he first became Acknowledged heir of Heaven's uncourted worth — The altar where his bride, with maiden shame, Pledged herself his till death, in body, soul, and name. ii. Sweet, and yet sorrowful, each sight and sound Telling his heart of home's far distant bliss, E'en as the ranz des vaches, on foreign ground, O'erwhelms the martial spirit of the Swiss, In thought restoring his wife's farewell kiss, His children's voices, and his mountain cot; Till waking from his dream, he starts to miss Those cherish'd joys, and loathes his soldier lot, Fame — honour — fortune — hope — in that fond grief forgot ! 276 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. III. Not alien thou, O Scotland, to the heart Of England, but long since, by many a tie Of law, religion, language, custom, art And mutual service done in days gone by, — Yea, by remembrance of past enmity, Each link'd to each ; — for still the noblest foe Becomes the truest friend and best ally When discord's bitter blasts have ceased to blow, And each the other's worth doth, thro' long con- flict, know. IV. A noble pair are ye, allied no less By contrast than resemblance ;— each doth wear A diverse garb of outward loveliness ; — Thou, with thy giant lakes and mountains bare, Where the storms bellow and the lightnings glare, Art robed in grandeur, — while her softer grace Of vale, and verdant wood, and pasture fair, Smiles on thy rude sublimity of face, E'en like a gentle bride in a brave man's embrace, v. And yet, though dear to wandering Southron's breast, And, e'en when most unlike, resembling still The pleasant land which he must needs love best, That land thou art not, nor its place canst fill So, in his heart, that it shall cease to thrill With fond home- thoughts ; — but oft as he hath found SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 277 In the wild region of the lake and hill, Aught which appears the growth of English ground, [bound ! How doth its every pulse with new-born pleasure VI. Sweet 'twas to him, amidst Edina's fanes, That Gothic pile episcopal to find, Where the pure form of English worship reigns, In graceful pomp and circumstance enshrined ; And there, once more, the willing heart unbind. To alien rites, for many a recent week, Amidst the mountains and wild glens confined, — And hear the English pastor's accent meek, The music, long unheard, of forms liturgic speak ! VII. Sweet 'twas to note the reverential air Of each new worshipper who bent the knee, Shading his brow meanwhile in silent prayer — While the deep organ, in accordant key, Sent forth a low, melodious symphony, Prelusive to the swell of choral hymn, — And o'er the soul a hush'd solemnity, Stealing from pillar'd arch and window dim, Raisedit to Heaven, as seem'd, on wings of seraphim. VIII. O say not this is superstition all — This solemn awe from solemn places caught — This reverence grave which doth man's heart enthrall — This tuning of the soul to pious thought ; — 278 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. Albeit, perchance, by shrewd contrivance wrought Through architectural grace and music's power. Deem not that lesson all unwisely taught, Which lifts the enfranchised spirit, for an hour, Above those cares of earth, which its best life devour. IX. Is it a guilty weakness to have felt A present spirit in the house of God ? To love the shrine where saintly knees have knelt — The marble floor which saintly feet have trod ? — To press, with softer tread, the churchyard sod, Beneath whose grassy verdure saints repose Till the last trump shall wake the kneaded clod, And once again the shrouded eyes unclose, To crown with heavenly bliss life's long-forgotten woes ? x. Would not the soul which felt no reverent awe In Earth's most holy places, still be cold, E'en if reveal'd, Heaven's blissful depths it saw, Throng'd with the spirits of just men of old ; And still unmoved, and confidently bold, Gaze with composure on the dreadful throne Whereon his final judgment Christ shall hold, And the dread secrets of all hearts make known, And all his foes condemn, and his redeem'd ones own? XI. And yet not so, — for many a pious heart Hath come to worship in yon kirk to-day, SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 279 And of that holy feast receive its part, And bear rich blessing to its home away, Which yet no decent reverence deigns to pay To aught which here the mental eye may trace Sacred or solemn; — as they will or may, The groups drop in — no outward sign of grace — But each, with hat undoff'd, squats down upon his place. XII. Ah ! well-a-day ! — but this seems wondrous strange ! Is this a mart where gossips sell and buy ? — A room for lectures, or a stock exchange ? — Is that, which seems a pulpit to the eye, A desk where auctioneers their labour ply ? Nay — ill the day such rasb conjectures suit ; — Ask not, O Southron gazer, whence or why The Northern vine bears such unshapely fruit; — 'Tis wholesome food, though coarse; — the tree is sound at root. XIII. Now cast thine eyes attentively around ; — The Temple and its worshippers survey ; — Rude is the first as may on Earth be found ; No vain adornments its white walls array, — Carving of oak, or stonework old and gray, — Nor monumental slab, nor sculptured tomb, Where their huge length recumbent warriors lay,— Nor painted glass sheds round cathedral gloom, Nor aught of outward pomp may find permitted room . 280 SUNDAY IX THE MOUNTAINS. XIV. Oblong the shape ; — an area cramm'd with pews, Close, narrow, low, which, at a glance, you see Are such as sturdy Presbyterians use, Who never, e'en in worship, bend the knee. Back'd by the western wall, which fronts the sea, Frowns the grim pulpit, cushionless and bare Of all vain gauds of Popish frippery, — Unlined the sides, uncarpeted the stair, — Wore never hermit's cell a less luxurious air. xv. So 'tis most fitting : — so shall issue thence, In strains accordant both to place and theme, The deep-toned flood of Gaelic eloquence, Clear, strong, and rapid, like a mountain stream ; Dispersing, in its rush, sin's sensual dream. Ah how unlike the soft luxurious shrine, Which fashion's sickly brood sublimest deemj Where, throned in velvet state, the smug divine Doth his thin, filmy woof of polish'd periods twine, xvi. Fronting the pulpit, with capacious span, Yawns a broad arch , through which the wandering eye A separate portion of the kirk may scan ; The floor close-pew'd, o'er which extends on high, From side to side, a spacious gallery Assign'd to worshippers of higher class, Where fluttering scarf and gorgeous shawl you s py, SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 281 Mix'd with such male attire as doth surpass Aught that below appears in all that motley mass. XVII. Vacant as yet the seats, for scarce the chime Of neighbouring- clock the hour of twelve hath told ; Nor oft the rich anticipate the time Of worship ; but below you may behold, Assembling slowly, forms of coarser mould ; The lowly dwellers in the moor and glen ; — Shepherds and hinds, and cottars young and old, And sailors rough, and simple fishermen, Which fitly to describe o'ertasks poetic pen. XVIII. Silent they sit, expectant all and each, When he who leads their worship shall appear; No time for idle thought or idler speech, Or nod of mutual recognition here : No sound, save that of slamming doors, you hear, As the new comers, one by one, stalk in, And take their seats with grave and sturdy cheer — None breathing, till the service shall begin, A whisper which could drown the dropping of a pin. XIX. And some, the lingering moments to beguile, On scripture page with gaze abstracted pore, Or Psalter turn'd to rhyme in homeliest style, Conning each well-known metre o'er and o'er. Ah ! well I wot would David's heart be sore, 282 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. Could he, return'd to Earth, the wrong behold Done to the strains divine he sung of yore, By British bards, in version new and old, So marr'd with phrase uncouth, and rhyme of rugged mould. xx. But neither those twin jinglers of harsh wire, Sternhold and Hopkins, nor that worthier pair, Brady and Tate, have stripp'd the Hebrew lyre Of poesy and music quite so bare (If doggrel we with doggrel may compare) As Scottish bards, whom yet the kirks decree, Expelling hymns profane with pious care, Hath throned in David's seat, that they may be Sole lords throughout the land of song andpsalraody. ? XI. Ah ! why forbid the tuneful soul to soar Heavenward, unless on inspiration's wings ? Why cramp its flight with chains of Jewish lore ? Why blame the music of those later strings, To which the Church her song majestic sings, Attuned to themes of yet diviner strain Than bless'd the ear of prophets or of kings, Before the Son of man, with toil and pain, Had freed our ransom'd race from Hell's oppressive chain ? XXII. By seer and psalmist, darkly at the best, Messiah's face, as in a glass, was seen ; Dimly, by them, in shadowy lines exprest — SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 283 The incarnate glory of its god-like mien Veil'd from our gaze by clouds that float between ; Yet not unrecognized by saintly eye, Whether of hind unletter'd, poor and mean, Or studious scholar, skilful to descry Whate'er of old was taught in type and prophecy. XXIII. But who shall thus discern, of modern men, The form reveal'd to Hebrew seer sublime, When marr'd and mangled by the reckless pen Of versifier rude, with measured chime Twisting the strain prophetic into rhyme, In parish churches to be shriek'd, not sung, By untaught throats that murder tune and time, In nasal drone and broad provincial tongue, With twang of viols harsh to perfect discord strung ? XXIV. But Scotland's kirk this last foul murder yet Hath ne'er committed her strict walls within ; But loathes the sound of flute and clarionet, Hautboy, and hoarse bassoon and violin, And gruff bass viol with commingled din Deafening the ear ; — their own harmonious notes Her children raise to heaven, and deem it sin To mar the natural music of their throats With instrumental clang, on which Hell's monarch dotes. XXV. And deep and sweet and solemn is the swell Of congregated voices, when they raise 284 SUNDAY IX THE MOUNTAINS. The simple strains which Scotland loves so well, Attuned to words, tho' rude, of prayer and praise ; Upborne by which the soaring" spirit strays Through worlds beyond the bounds of space and time ; — Oh ! could some bard but lend accordant lays To notes so sweet and utterance so sublime, Methinks e'en Knox's shade might pardon such a crime. XXVI. Bolder herein have Wesley's flocks been found, Though far unlike, in all things else, they be The Calvinistic growth of Scottish ground, — Weak, stunted off-shoots of a goodly tree : Yet they, with venturous daring, have set free Both verse and music from those irksome chains Which cramp the wing of statelier psalmody ; Recalling banish'd song from sin's domains To praise redeeming love in blithe trochaic strains. XXVII. But worthier far to greet angelic ears The hymns in Rome's apostate temples sung To music like the music of the spheres — Hymns of past ages, when the church was young ! Ah ! why still shrouded in a foreign tongue ? Or why, since purer faith's reviving day, Hath none been found, Britannia's sons among, To cheer her churches with an equal lay? — Arise some bard, and wipe the foul reproach away ! SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 285 XXVIII. And yet, (so quickly is the gentle heart By simplest things to keen emotion stirr'd) E'en this rude mockery of poetic art May be to loftiest minstrelsy preferr'd By those who first, from lips maternal, heard Its rugged rhymes, in tenderest accents, sung ; — Lo ! where intently scanning line and word, Yon matron sits, a radiant group among Of children, all her own — yet she both fair and young. XXIX. Silent she sits, and yet her lips are moving, In measured cadence, to the psalm she sings To her own heart, whose thoughts meanwhile are roving Through worlds unseen on faith's ethereal wings ; Nought marks she now of sublunary things, — The congregating crowd— the rustic fane — The infant group around her knees that clings ; No sense hath she of mortal joy or pain ; — O ! might she thus dream on, nor ever wake again ! XXX. Yet is she rich in this world's purest joy ; Heaven hath, with liberal bounty, blest her lot ; Witness each bright-eyed girl and blooming boy — Witness their sire, whose neat sequester'd cot Her smile makes glad ; — in truth she needeth not 286 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. Aught more of earthly bliss than God hath given ; Yet never, amidst all, hath she forgot To lay up treasure, costlier far, in Heaven, And prize o'er Earth's best joys the peace of sin forgiven. XXXI. But see ! the pastor of the flock appears, — A man of rosy cheek and cheerful eye, His age now verging close on fifty years, Which, you may deem, have smoothly glided by ; For not a vestige on his brow you spy Of over-anxious care, or thought too deep : Sound doctrine doth he preach, but passing dry,— Which as he drones, o'er hearers' sense doth creep Such calm that some 'gin nod, and some have fallen asleep. XXXII. His hour, and with the hour his sermon done, From dreamy doze at once the slumberers start, And loudly all the final psalm intone, Which and the service closed, the larger part Forsake the church, while those of contrite heart Or strict profession, still their seats retain. — Our wanderer with the former shall depart, Deeming it now intrusion rash and vain, Amidst the bidden guests, unbidden, to remain. XXXIII. Meanwhile, without the walls, a countless crowd Yon shelter'd pulpit, misnamed tent, surround, SUNDAY IN THE iMOUNTAlNS. 287 Where with alternate rhetoric, long and loud, Saxon and Gael successive texts expound ; And ever and anon the solemn sound Of psalms, in Gaelic and in Saxon tongue, Doth from the mountains and huge rocks rebound, As, by a sea of voices old and young, A chorus like the roar of ocean-waves is sung. XXXV. A solemn sound ! — a sweet and solemn sight ! — The psalm — the choir — the temple vast and fair In which all voices with all hearts unite, — Its floor the turf — its roof the boundless air — Its altar Man's deep heart — its offering prayer, Attuned to melody of sacred song ; — In truth, devotion lacks not utterance there, But breathes to Heaven, in accents clear and strong, Strains scarce unfit to sound angelic choirs among, xxxv. Thus, between mingled acts of prayer and praise, The day wears on, till lengthen'd shadows fall, And still fresh crowds their solemn chorus raise. And still fresh preachers, with repeated call, Reprove, rebuke, exhort them, one and all ; And still new hearers, as the old retire, Fill up of space each vacant interval ; Sooner, it seems, the daylight shall expire Than psalm and sermon cease — than flesh or spirit tire. 288 SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. XXXVI. Tis good for Southron wight to have been here, — Good to have felt the spirit of the place, And witness'd the devotion, deep, sincere, Which fires this sturdy Presbyterian race ; Nor deems he that henceforth shall aught efface Remembrance of their worship from his mind : Yet, as he turns, his footsteps to retrace, Is this, thinks he, the holy rite design'd, True Christian hearts in one with heavenly love to bind? XXXVII. This countless crowd — this myriad -throated roar Of voices, echoed back from rock and hill, — Comport they with a spirit sad and sore ? — A heart self judged — a meek and chasten'd will? A conscience troubled by its load of ill ? This festival of feeling, wild and high, Ah ! — how unlike that upper chamber still ! — That hush of hearts , which felt the hour draw nigh , When on the atoning cross the Son of man must die ! XXXVIII. Far better with that hallow'd feast agree The church embosom'd deep in peaceful vale, — The silent groups which humbly bow the knee, In suppliant guise, before the altar rail, — The lowly voice of pastor meek and pale, Who to his hungering flock doth there impart The living bread from heaven which cannot fail — SUNDAY IN THE MOUNTAINS. 289 The deep-drawn sighs, which ease the contrite heart, The penitential tears, which there unbidden start. XXXIX. So deems our wanderer, and with thoughtful brow Wends homeward through the wind and pelting rain, Which, (through brief rest its strength recover'd now) From masses of black cloud descends again ; Gladly shall he his mountain cot regain, Where wife and children his return desire; Nor let him deem this Sunday spent in vain, When, cheer'd by food and clothed in dry attire, He teUs what he has seen by summer evening fire. 2 U OCCASIONAL POEMS. OCCASIONAL POEMS. STANZAS. WRITTEN IN THE ISLE OF ARRAN. 1838. I. There was a time when scenes like these Which from our cottage door we see — Those peaks which seem the clouds to kiss — The sunlig'ht on that crystal sea — The solemn gloom of yon pine wood — This burn which glides, in music, by, Had charm'd me to that wish'd-for mood Which oft gives birth to poesy, n. Tis not so now ; — I g-aze and gaze, And feed my pleased corporeal sense, As gladly as in earlier days, On Nature's rude magnificence. Each feature of this glorious scene Looks glorious as it look'd of yore. But I am not as I have been, — The spells, which charm'd me, charm no more. 294 OCCASIONAL POEMS. III. Tis not that now, in manhood's prime, My powers have sunk in swift decay ; — I rather deem the scythe of Time Hath loppM their rank misgrowths away. Tis not that now, with soberer will, I shun the visions loved so long ; — Full oft my heart is yearning still To mingle with the sons of song. IV. Tt is that life hath lest, for me, The shadowy veil of doubt and fear ; That depths, once hid in mystery, Now lie before me close and clear. It is that I can use no more The workings of young Hope within To gild each outward object o'er With glory to herself akin. v. Long since when, in the spring of youth, My spirit wrought on airy themes, Investing with the hues of truth The substance of its wildest dreams, — Then wood and hill and mountain-head, And murmuring stream and billowy sea, With draughts of pure enjoyment fed The inner life of Phantasy, vi. Each form of earthly beauty seem'd With its own substance to endue OCCASIONAL POEMS. 295 The emptiest joys that Fancy dream'd, Or Hope's delusive pencil drew. And thus, while Earth look'd heavenly-bright, And Hope and Fancy still were strong, Well might I soar, with venturous flight, Through many a dizzy path of song. VII. But now — on life's sunshiny noon There rests a clear, unclouded ray ; The lights and shades of star and moon Have faded from the sober day. My heart no more delights to dwell In treacherous dreams of bliss to come ; — My present joys — I love them well, But they are, with myself, at home. VIII. And Nature's face is now to me No prophecy of times more fair ; It speaks no more of things to be, But tells of lovelier things that were. Yon mountain-peaks — those sea-girt isles — This sky, too oft with clouds o'ercast, Remind me of life's varying smiles, Its hopes, its fears, its interest past. IX. Therefore, albeit I love to muse, In dreamy mood, on days gone by, And still, well-pleased, the face peruse Of stream and mountain, sea and sky, — Not these, nor sights like these awake, 296 OCCASIONAL POEMS. In me, the slumbering soul of song, Nor those benumbing fetters break Which Fancy's wing hath felt so long. x. My days of tuneful thought are o'er, Nor need I at their loss repine ; Since home-content and letter'd lore, And love and friendship still are mine : And pastoral duties, not unblest, With tranquil toil my powers employ ; And heavenly hope yields peace and rest Sweeter than Earth's unquiet joy. OUR WEDDING-DAY ! 1838. I. Our wedding-day ! our wedding-day ! — And 'tis a bright and balmy morn ; But thou, alas ! art far away, And I, in home and heart, forlorn! This thirteenth year of love and peace, With small alloy of squally weather, (Ah ! why must good old customs cease ?) Should find us, like past years, together. ii. But happier is thy lot than mine, For thou hast those dear younglings near thee, Round whom thy heartstrings twist and twine, OCCASIONAL POEMS. 297 Whose smiles with ceaseless sunshine cheer thee. There's Gerard with his calm grave eye, And Geolly's cheeks as red as may be ; And curly-pated, saucy Ty, And May, the loveliest earthly baby, in. And in the dear old house thou art, My childhood's home, my manhood's vision, Whose every chamber to my heart Recalls past joys and dreams Elysian. And both my parents lavish smiles On thee, their own adopted daughter ; And Nature's face thine eye beguiles With rock and hill and wood and water. IV. But I ! — about my house I roam,— My lonely house, my cheerless dwelling, Which wears no more the look of home, Though still of home's lost comforts telling. My children's toys lie scatter'd round, — Their hoops and balls and rakes and rattles, And flags, about the garden found, Memorials brave of mimic battles ! v. The garden ! — how its borders look ! Rank weeds are trailing round their edges ; The pair, who late its charge forsook, Were not exactly garden Hedges. The roof is rent from off the bower, And sun and stars and sky look through it, 298 OCCASIONAL POEMS. And thunder-storm and summer shower In seat and floor and side bedew it. VI. And Fanny's voice seems tuneless now, Although she sings as sweet as ever ; And Jess has lost her blithe bow-wow, And Pam has caught a nervous fever. E'en Sally's smiles no more delight, — E'en Dulcy's brow is cold and clouded ; — In short, whatever once look'd bright Is now in gloom completely shrouded. VII. At night, when I to bed repair, I find but one poor, lonely pillow; And round my brows am fain to wear, For nuptial wreath, the weeping willow. And Tiny's crib is at my side, And for its company I thank it ; But it has lost its crown and pride, — Yea, e'en its counterpane and blanket ! VIII. Our wedding day ! our wedding day ! How dismal 'tis ! — how dull and stupid ! Alas ! that wives from home should stray, And Hymen prove as false as Cupid ! Return, return, thou spouse of mine, Bring all our olive-buds about thee, And cheer, with those bright smiles of thine, This heart so dreary-dark without thee. OCCASIONAL POEUS. 299 INSCRIPTION FOR A BUST OF THE LATE WINTHROP MACKWORTH PRAED. Not that in him, whom these poor praises wrong-, Gifts, rare themselves, in rarest union dwelt; Not that, reveal'd through eloquence and song-, In him the Bard and Statesman breathed and felt ; — Not that his nature, graciously endued With feelings and affections pure and hig-h, Was purged from worldly taint, and self- subdued, Till soul o'er sense g-ain'd perfect mastery ; — Not for this only we lament his loss, — Not for this chiefly we account him blest ; But that all this he cast beneath the Cross, Content for Christ to live, in Christ to rest. HYMN FOR THE OPENING OF A CHURCH ORGAN. I. Throughout all earth, and air, and sea, Sweet sounds our Father bless, In hymns of natural harmony From voices numberless. 300 OCCASIONAL POEMS. II. The carol shrill of joyous bird, — The hum of honey-bee, — The leaves, by summer breezes stirr'd, Which whisper on the tree — in. The cataract's rush, — the ocean's roar Unite with one accord, In ceaseless chorus to adore Their own — all Nature's Lord. IV. The Church, with pipes and keys combined By Man's profounder art, Appropriate utterance strives to find For music in her heart. v. Father ! to-day accept our gift, And by thy presence bless The hymns thy children here uplift To praise thy bounteousness. SONNET I. NEW YEAR'S DAY. Not with solemnities of festal mirth, — The well-spread board, the wine-cup sparkling clear, The laugh of neighbours o'er their Christmas cheer, The gibe and gambol round the blazing hearth, — Not with such rites we celebrate thy birth, OCCASIONAL TOEMS. 301 And bid thee blithe God-speed ! O infant year : Nor yet, in thoughtful mood, with brow severe, Mourning thine elder sisters lost on earth ; But with leave-takings, and the bustling care Of packing and of parting : — sad employ ! Yet not unmingled with a sober joy ; For we, who part, to separate homes repair, So greeting well thy birth ; since none may share Life's pleasures undebased by pain's alloy. 1838. SONNET II. Once more the tardy progress of the spring Brings round, beloved, our betrothal day, Rich heretofore in all the sweets which May Did from her teeming lap, prolific, fling ; But now the lingering Zephyr's crippled wing Thro' boughs all bare and blossomless doth stray, And scarce have winter's hoar-frosts pass'd away, Or vernal birds begun as yet to sing. But let the laggard and distemper'd year Frown as it lists ; — we two have sunshine still, Warming with love sweet wedlock's atmosphere ; And many a bubbling fount and sparkling rill Of joy and peace makes music sweet and clear For us, scarce yet descending life's steep hill. 1838. 302 OCCASIONAL POEMS. SONNET III. Cousin, the phantom voice of other years Spake to me, as I sat by thee once more, And saw thee what thou wast in days of yore, Unfaded yet by life's thick-gushing tears — While thy loved voice made music in my ears, Such as it did ere boyhood's dream was o'er, Or manhood yet had found its present store Of household joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. Now in two worlds we dwell, by different cares And sympathies begirt; — yet each, I trust, Employ 'd in tasks through which high Heaven prepares For its own bliss the faithful and the just. There may our spirits meet, as now our prayers, When our dust, cousin, hath return'd to dust. 1837. SONNET IV. WRITTEN IN THE HIGHLANDS. Through islet-sprinkled lakes, embosom'd deep In mountains crown'd with yet unmelted snow, While o'er their heathery sides bright wild-flowers grow, — Through rocky glens, in which, from steep to steep, With rush and roar, the mountain torrents leap, — OCCASIONAL POEMS. 303 O'er Inverara's heights, — through wild Glencroe — (Delight and wonder kindling as we go) From Arran's distant isle our course we keep. But ask me not to paint what here we see, With graphic pen, though all be passing dear To memory ; — for this outward world, to me, Hath never been of tuneful thought the sphere; My realm of song is human hope and fear, Joy, grief, domestic peace and fireside glee. 1839. SONNET V. LOCH RANZA. From Brodick's matchless bay, along the shore Of Arran northward, past the Sannox gfen, Her freight of sketching dames and wondering men Our crowded steamboat to Loch Ranza bore ; Which when we enter'd — all my hopes were o'er ; Nought found I there to task poetic pen : But one there was, who with an artist's ken Gazed at the scene, and straight began to pour Artistic raptures about light and shade — And how effectively these tints would lie, And how much of those outlines might be made ; Yet he, with slender notice, had pass'd by Glen-Sannox gorge. — How unlike mine his trade ! How far the painter's from the poet's eye ! 1839. 304 OCCASIONAL POEMS. SONNET VI. TO MY INFANT DAUGHTER. My daughter ! — in that name appear fulfill'd The cherish'd dreams of many wedded years; Child of as many wishes, hopes and fears, As e'er through poet's restless bosom thrill'd, How doth thy rising star serenely gild, For me, the horizon of this vale of tears ! Which, in its tender light, almost appears A place where Hope her final home might build. But with a deeper joy I greet thy birth, For that hereafter, as I fondly trust, Thou shaltmake glad thy mother's home and hearth, When she shall mourn (as soon or late she must) Her lack-land sons dispers'd throughout the earth , — Her husband, and his follies, in the dust. 1837. SONNET VII. TO MY YOUNGEST CHILD. I would not have it said that thou alone, My latest-born, hast been unsung by me, Of six whom I have dandled on my knee, Some among whom have, many a year, outgrown OCCASIONAL POEMS. 305 Parental dandling- : — therefore, for thine own, Take now this sonnet, — though perchance to thee, But little versed in lore of A, B, C, 'Twill seem a mystery better left unknown. Right glad am I that thou art thus devoid Of erudition ; — that thy tender age Hath been in healthier toil, till now, employ'd Than poring o'er some spelling-book's dull page ;— That thou, a poet's daughter, hast enjoy'd Life's early dawn unpent in schoolroom cage. 1843. SONNET VIII. With fond parental pride did I devote This pair of sister Sonnets to the press ; — Short-sighted dreamer ! — little did I g-uess That, at the moment when the words I wrote, Did Azrael's dusky wing already float O'er both those gentle heads !— That sore distress— Those long, long weeks of death's own bitterness Are past— the Arm, thrice lifted, never smote. For this deep mercy be the Chastener blest ! And ye, my children, from the grave's embrace Deliver'd— our lost treasure repossest — May ye, henceforth, by yet diviner grace Made doubly His, so run your earthly race That ye in Heaven with holiest saints may rest ! 1843. 2 x 306 OCCASIONAL POEMS. SONNET IX. Six weeks of anxious watching and suspense, With ceaseless ebbs and flows of hope and dread, A tinge of silver o'er thy locks hath shed, Dimming, in part, their dark magnificence, Which else perchance had, many a summer hence, As in time past, still graced thy matron head ; Grey hast thou grown beside our children's bed, Raised, through thy care, from stroke of pestilence : Therefore, O best-belov'd, more deeply now Those streaks of summer snow do I hold dear Than the pure jet which shaded thy young brow When, at the altar's rail, with hearts sincere We plighted, each to each, our nuptial vow ; — Mother and wife on Earth without a peer ! 1843. SONNET X. TO THE AUTHORESS OF " I WATCH'd THE HEAVENS." Within two miles of glorious dale and hill, Lady, we two from infancy were bred ; And bravely (doubt not) were our spirits fed On forms and hues which there with beauty fill Meadow and valley, rock, and wood, and rill; Each, by a guidance which we knew not, led OCCASIONAL POEMS. 307 Through discipline, which train'd both heart and head The Bard's mysterious mission to fulfil. Nor grudge I, but rejoice, that Heaven to thee Allots the loftier task, the nobler powers, Teaching thy wing to soar, thine eye to see Beyond the bounds of this gross world of ours; While I , confined to Earths' green banks and bowers, Pipe my wild notes of human grief and glee. 1843. STANZAS. TO THE SAME. Some five and twenty years have past — (It may be more — it may be less — ) Since first we met— and parted last, — A poet and a poetess. ii. That first and last and only time Did we (whose hearts e'en then were swelling With thoughts, ere long to bloom in rhyme) Converse within one earthly dwelling, in. A dark-hair'd girl — a stripling tall — (For then no lath than I was thinner) We sat within thy Father's Hall, Among sedater guests, at dinner. 308 OCCASIONAL POEMS. IV. We talk'd, as youthful poets use, Of high imaginative matters ; Of Scott's and Moore's and Byron's Muse,— Of Odes and Epics — Songs and Satires ;— v. Of Music and the sister arts, Save one — alas ! denied to thee, Though mostly dear to female hearts — The art of gay Terpsichore. VI. To Her, in that same festive Hall, Had I, in strange, fantastic motion, Obedient to the fiddle's call, Paid, oft ere then, my young devotion. VII. And graceful forms and eyes of light, Before my raptured vision glancing, Had held me through the livelong night, In love's wild dreams my soul entrancing. VIII. Each form — each face — each thrilling tone, Which charm'd me then, is now forgot; One face remains, — one voice alone From Memory's ear departeth not. IX. A Presence of mysterious power (But dimly then discern'd by me) Had through my spirit, in that hour, Diffused itself insensibly. OCCASIONAL POEMS. 309 X. And hence that hour of converse still, While years have faded, seemeth near; Like some sun-gilded, distant hill Seen through a rain-fraught atmosphere. XI. And if no more we meet on Earth, 'Twill be a pleasant thought to me, That the same haunts which gave thee birth Were mine from tenderest infancy. XII. The bold Clee Hill — the winding Teme — The glorious woods of Mawley Hall — The banks of Rea's romantic stream — We both have known and loved them all. XIII. Yes ! — both have loved them ; — thou no less Than I (though thine no earthly strain) Dost, from that region's loveliness, Pure springs of inspiration drain. XIV. Heaven speed thee, lady, in thy flight Through worlds of song beyond my ken ! Heaven guide that wing of female might Where few can soar of mightiest men ! xv. And though thou fall'st on evil days For daughters, as for sons, of Song, Doubt not the echo of thy lays In many a heart shall linger long. 310 OCCASIONAL POEMS. XVI. Nor now this cordial praise repel From one who glories that, in thee, Amidst the scenes he loves so well Was born a nobler Bard than he. 1843. LAMENT FOR THE DOON. Air. — The Rhine ! the Rhine ! I. The Doon ! — the Doon ! — our own romantic river ! We tread thy banks no more — we tread thy banks no more ; Thy stream's bright gush is lost to us for ever, Its home-sweet music o'er — its home-sweet mu- sic o'er. CHORUS. The Doon ! — the Doon ! — mourn, sires grown old before us, Your birthright lost too soon — your birthright lost too soon ; Youths, maidens, wives, take up our wailing chorus ! Weep, children, for the Doon ! — weep, children, for the Doon ! ii. The Doon ! — the Doon ! — thine own great Bard hath made thee OCCASIONAL POEMS. 311 Of Earth's famed rivers one — of Earth's famed rivers one ; Thy banks, thy braes, each tree that droops to shade thee, Immortal praise hath won — immortal praise hath won. The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. in. But Doon, fair Doon — why doth my memory hover O'er thee in tearful thought — o'er thee in tear- ful thought ? Boyhood had past, and youth's best days were over, Ere thou to me wast aught — ere thou to me wast aught. The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. IV. But Doon, bright Doon, thy waters leapt to greet me, When wedded love was young — when wedded love was young ; And on thy banks new friends came forth to meet me, — Warm heart and cordial tongue — warm heart and cordial tongue. The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. v. The Doon! — the Doon! — remembrance yet re- joices O'er bliss beside thee felt— o'er bliss beside thee felt ; — 312 OCCASIONAL POEMS. The old plain home — the cheerful looks and voices Which round its hearthstone dwelt — which round its hearthstone dwelt. The Doon ! — the Doon, &c. VI. The Doon '.—the Doon ! — those looks no more shall cheer me On thy deserted shore — on thy deserted shore ; Those tones which told what friendly hearts beat near me, Shall bless mine own no more — shall bless mine own no more. The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. VII. But Doon, sweet Doon ! untouch'd some hearts be- hold thee, For whom thy bright waves ran — for whom thy bright waves ran ; One, long thy lord, to alien hands hath sold thee — That calm, grey-headed man — that calm, grey- headed man. The Doon '.—the Doon ! &c. VIII. Yet, Doon, lost Doon — the love of thy clear waters Must still his spirit sway — must still his spirit sway ; Woe ! — woe for him ! — his sons ! — his blooming- daughters ! — Their birthright cast away ! — their birthright cast away ! The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. OCCASIONAL POEMS. 313 IX. But Doon, sweet Doon ! — thy murmurs will not reach them, Where Fashion rules their lot — where Fashion rules their lot ; Strange are their hearts to lore which thou wouldst teach them ; — Sweet Doon, they love thee not — sweet Doon, they love thee not. The Doon '.—the Doon ! &c. x. But woe for Her whose home hath been beside thee For many an anxious year — for many an anxious year ! From whose deep love no change shall e'er divide thee, Nor make thy banks less dear — nor make thy banks less dear. The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. XI. And woe for those, whose weary footsteps wander Far in the burning East — far in the burning East! Whose hearts e'en now, perchance, still vainly ponder O'er hopes which here have ceased — o'er hopes which here have ceased. The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. XII. And woe for Her o'er whom, as lost, we sorrow', — 314 OCCASIONAL POEMS. Our once loved meetings o'er — our once loved meetings o'er ! 'Midst alien cares, her grief, perchance, shall borrow A voice from mine once more — a voice from mine once more. The Doon '.—the Doon ! &c. XIII. Yes, woe for her ! — sound sleeps her virgin sister Beneath our Southern sod — beneath our Southern sod ; Joy to her now '.—long, long our homes have miss'd her ; — But hers hath been with God — but hers hath been with God. The Doon ! — the Doon ! &c. XIV. The Doon ! — the Doon ! — along thy banks, sweet river, My first-born's steps have stray'd — my first- born's steps have stray'd ; Thy voice, I trust, shall haunt his thought for ever, Till Memory's self shall fade — till Memory's self shall fade. The Doon !— the Doon ! &c. xv. The Doon! — the Doon! — still, still to sons and daughters Fond tales of thee we'll tell— fond tales of thee we'll tell : OCCASIONAL POEMS. 315 Though we no more must gaze upon thy waters ; — Our own sweet Doon, farewell ! — our own sweet Doon, farewell ! CHORUS. The Doon ! — the Doon ! — mourn, sires grown old before us, Your birthright lost too soon — your birthright lost too soon, ^t ouths, maidens, wives, take up our wailing chorus ! Weep, children, for the Doon ! — weep, children, for the Doon ! 1837. LAYS OF THE PARISH. I. EUTHANASIA. II. THE SONG OF THE KETTLK. LAYS OF THE PARISH. EUTHANASIA. I. The world is full of lovely things ; We need not borrow Fancy's wings To waft us through the sky In quest of change, through any dearth Of glorious objects here on Earth To feed our inward eye. 11. Nor deem I that all-bounteous Heaven Hath, to the poet only, given A power which doth reveal, In Nature's every sound and sight, Deeper and more intense delight Than common souls can feel, in. 'Tis holy Love — 'tis Faith and Hope, Which Beauty's secret chambers ope To minds of humblest mould ; And paths of heavenly light are trod On Earth by every child of God, Which no gross eyes behold. 320 LAYS OF THE PARISH. IV. And he — there's not a spot so sad But he can make it bright and glad ; No scene so dark and drear, But he therein doth well discern Celestial lights, which blaze and burn Through its thick atmosphere, v. In towns or woods, on towers or trees, The impress of God's hand he sees, And hears his well-known voice ; In hope and fear, in woe and weal, His presence doth he ever feel, And in His smile rejoice. VI. With searching glance 'tis his to scan The deep, mysterious heart of man — Its secret movements trace ; The spirit's silent growth to mark, And track, through windings dim and dark, The wondrous stream of grace. VII. The griefs and joys which others feel More closely to his heart appeal Than godless minds can guess ; Tis his with all to smile and weep, And share, with fervour kind and deep, Their joy and their distress. VIII. And thus, — whate'er his walk may be, — EUTHANASIA. 321 Full of sweet sympathies is he With pleasure and with pain ; Wherever human hearts are found, Feeling" and thought for him abound ; — The world is his domain. IX. In court or camp, in hall or cot, Rich contemplations fail him not ; — A peasant at the plough — A soldier — or a merchant grave — A monarch — or a menial slave — His heart hath range enow. x. And yet, methinks, one task there is More sweetly and more truly his Than other tasks can be ; — The gospel message to convey To souls from Heaven still far astray ; — The task assign'd to me. XI. To us, and to our pastoral care, Is many a human heart laid bare In many a varying mood ; All human sorrows, doubts and fears, All cares and troubles, smiles and tears, Supply our mental food. XII. To us the wounded spirit flees For words of comfort to appease Its own afflictive smart ; 2 Y 322 LAYS OF THE PARISH. The penitent, by fears opprest, Comes to us, and asks ease and rest For his o'er-burden'd heart. XIII. Our aid is lent, our prayers are said By saint and sinner's dying- bed ; To us, in life's last hour, Confidingly both young- and old The soul's mysterious depths unfold — Its weakness and its power. XIV. Then, if I may revive once more The powers, which, ere life's spring was o' Were mine, or seem'd to be, — What need to urge, beyond the sphere Of vision which surrounds me here, My light-wing'd phantasy ? xv. Nought care I for heroic strains ; — I leave to bolder hearts and brains The lofty epic style ; Enough for me what I can win Of calm and tender thought, within The space of one square mile ! XVI. Here, in this quiet shelter'd spot, Where Providence hath cast my lot, In love and peace, so long, — This spot which saw my children's birth — Here, by my own still blissful hearth, Shall be my world of song. EUTHANASIA. 323 XVII. From things which gladden or which grieve Familiar hearts, my Muse shall weave Such garlands as she can ; Noting, in this her narrow sphere, All storms which shake, all gleams which cheer The troublous soul of Man. XVIII. So now to hearts of gentle mould A simple tale will I unfold — A tale of humble love, Of suffering long and faith intense, In one who late departed hence To dwell with Christ above. XIX. Of humble parentage was she, And yet not born in poverty, No child of want or shame ; Her parents still in comfort dwell, And earn a decent living well, And bear an honest name. xx. Herself — in sooth I would not speak Of beaming eye or blooming cheek, Fine form, or noble mien, Had such been hers : — 'twould suit as well The unromantic tale I tell, Had she an Ethiop been. xxi. There are, whose chance-caught looks express An intellectual loveliness, 324 LAYS Or THE PARISH. Which makes us turn and start, Even when no outward sign we trace Of beauty in the form and face — Looks kindled from the heart. XXII. But such were not her looks or mien — No token in her face was seen Of genius rich and rare ; Even though you sought, you scarce would find A symptom of superior mind, Or high-wrought feeling there. XXIII. She was a meek and simple maid As ever roam'd in greenwood shade, Or sat in summer bower ; Though little of green shades or woods, Lone dells or silent solitudes, Knew she, or felt the power. XXIV. Scant store of sentiment refined Had she — her pure but humble mind Small culture e'er had known ; Few were her books, nor much she sought, Through knowledge gain'd of others' thought, To elevate her own. XXV. So fares it oft with those design'd The loftiest place midst human kind In other worlds to hold ; Though here they seem, to human eye, EUTHANASIA. 325 Compass'd with much infirmity — The feeblest of the fold. XXVI. We see not how their spirits grow, We know not whence the breezes blow Which life to them convey ; Through what dim workings of the thought The silent work of grace is wrought, And error purged away. XXVII. But mark them well — in lowliest hut, Or, poorest among paupers, shut Within a workhouse walls ; And you will own that heavenly light, In streams of glory pure and bright, On their weak spirits falls. XXVIII. No doubts have they through learned pride ; They hear God's promise and confide, — Their faith is faith indeed ; And thus from height to height they go Of hope and love, while we, below, Plod on with laggard speed. XXIX. Yet was not she, of whom I speak, Left all her little lore to seek, Or rear her own poor thought ; But placed beneath the Christian rule Of one who kept a daily school, And Christ's pure lessons taught. 326 LAYS OF THE PARISH. XXX. Nor may we deem the years mis-spent, In which, from day to day, she went To that instructress kind ; Though then no goodly growth was rear'd, No promise of rich grace appear'd To blossom in her mind. XXXI. Her teacher plough'd the virgin ground, And scatter'd in its soil profound The seed of truth divine ; Which there unseen, unnoticed lay, Till on her heart, with quickening ray, Religion's sun should shine. XXXII. And thus her tender years were past — Until the time arrived at last When she, a woman grown, Should, as the Church's laws allow, Renewing the baptismal vow, Confirm it as her own. XXXIII. A blessed time is that to me, — Of all my pastoral ministry To toil most pleasant given ; W r hen, face to face, in conference sweet. The younglings of my flock I meet, To speak of Christ and Heaven. XXXIV. A blessed time, when heavenly truth EUTHANASIA. 327 Press'd firmly on the mind of youth In many a close appeal, Lays bare undreamt-of depths within, And the whole mystery of sin Doth startlingly reveal. XXXV. A time of fresh and fervent thought, When Heaven and Hell at once are brought Before the young mind's eye ; And the thick veil is rent in twain Which on the wondrous world had lain Of immortality. XXXVI. So fell it in that maiden's case ; The deep, mysterious work of grace Seem'd then, in her, begun ; The seeds, in childhood sown, then first To life and sudden vigour burst, Beneath religion's sun. XXXVII. With thoughtful brow and tearful eye She heard, and in her heart laid by The lessons then instill'd ; Truths known, but never felt before, Which now she ponder'd o'er and o'er. Through soul and spirit thrill'd. XXXVIII. And when the holy rite was done, And from the altar, one by one, Her young companions pass'd, 328 LAYS OF THE PARISH. Whatever thoughts in them might stir — Some had, that day, been waked in her, Which would for ever last. XXXIX. The emptiness she now had learn'd Of things below — had well discern'd The worth of things not seen, And, in the Everlasting arms, From Earth's temptations, Hell's alarms, Received and shelter'd been. XL. Strange passage ! from youth's dreams of bliss Investing such a world as this With glory most untrue, To calmest faith and sober love, Which almost bring the world above Within the Christian's view. XLI. Strange passage! — and to her, most blest ! — For so she found a place of rest And comfort all her own, When on her gentle head did rain A storm of such fierce grief and pain As few on Earth have known. XLII. When summer leaves were on the boughs, She ratified her Christian vows, Began her Christian race ; But long ere winter's icy chain W T as broke, disease and bitterest pain Had paled her patient face. EUTHANASIA. 329 XLIII. She came to church on Christmas day, The homage of her love to pay, And celebrate His birth, Who, eighteen hundred years ago, Exchanged Heaven's bliss for human woe, And dwelt with Man on Earth. XLIV. That morn what peaceful joy was hers, As with his chosen worshippers She at his altar knelt ! But ere another sabbath day, Ah me ! how like a corpse she lay ! And yet what anguish felt ! XLV. Hard lot, ye think, my readers young, While every heart and every tongue Save hers was full of glee, And friends and neighbours vied in mirth By well-spread board and blazing hearth, To groan with agony. XLVI. Hard lot, ye think, was that for her ; And yet was she (I dare aver) Far happier where she lay, Than could the loudest laugher be Of any joyous company Which then kept holiday. XLVI I. Far happier — for her Saviour stood Beside her in her solitude, — 330 LAYS OF THE PARISH. Beside her stood and smiled ; And sounds were to her soul convey'd, Which seem'd to say " Be not afraid, Mine own adopted child." XLVIII. A peace seraphic, night and day, Upon her gentle spirit lay, — Peace, sent her from above, Which told that nought which might betide Thence-forward should her soul divide From Heaven's eternal love. XLIX. And think ye, while she felt this peace, Nor fear'd lest it should ever cease — That she could wish to be Once more with a light-hearted crowd, Midst roars of laughter long and loud, And boisterous revelry ? XL. Would she one glimpse of Heaven forego For all Earth's merriment ? — ah no ! Her ties to Earth are burst ; She listens to the angels' song, In draughts of rapture, deep and long, She slakes her spirit's thirst. XLI. Whoso had look'd on that sick bed With thoughtful eye, must needs have said A contrast strange was there ; Disease and racking pain without — EUTHANASIA. 331 Within — a soul from fear and doubt Made free as summer air. LII. And yet 'twas pitiful to see With what extreme severity Heaven chasten'd its dear child ; What pangs did that weak frame devour, From day to day, from hour to hour, Made fiercer and more wild. LIII. In sooth but slender skill have I In phrase of learn'd anatomy ; Nor know I how to name Whatever tortures urge the pulse To wildest th robbings, or convulse Our sinful human frame. Liv. Yet I may say no limb was free From its peculiar agony, But, downward from the face, Through all her frame convulsions went, Which every separate fibre rent In swift and ceaseless race. LV. From year to year did she sustain A dread diversity of pain, Still gathering more and more ; And this physicians did declare — That all which flesh and blood can bear Their gentle patient bore. 332 LAYS OF THE PARISH. LVI. So three years pass'd ; — the fourth begun — We deem'd that now her race was run, Her conflict nearly o'er ; For then a storm of pain did pierce Each part, more fiery and more fierce Than she had felt before. LVI I. Nor was this all ; — the light of day Was now for ever swept away, And ceaseless night began ; Her eyelids closed, nor might she trace Thenceforward any friendly face Or form beloved of Man. lviii. You deem perhaps that then she found Some compensation from the sound Of living voices near ; That friends would from a distance walk, With pleasant and familiar talk Her loneliness to cheer. LIX. And that beside her dying bed From morn to night her sisters read Sweet words of truth divine ; And prayers were said, and hymns were sung, And comfort dropp'd from many a tongue More eloquent than mine. LX. Ah no ! — so fierce her tortures were EUTHANASIA. 333 That she could now no longer bear The softest human tone ; A footstep, though it trod on down, — The rustle of a silken gown Thrill'd through her to the bone. LXI. And thus they lay (her pain and she) In sorrowful society, While twelve months more roll'd by ; She wasting silently away With imperceptible decay, And yet too strong to die. LXII. 'Twas the meek patience of her heart Which, through such fierce and fiery smart, Her life did long sustain ; And had her faith and love been less, She had escaped the bitterness Of many a month of pain. LXIII. Throughout that time full oft did I For entrance to her room apply, Which mostly was denied ; Such were her pangs, she could not bear A soothing word, a whisper'd prayer Put up at her bedside. LXIV. At last the final conflict came, Each part of her exhausted frame Had borne its share of woe ; 334 LAYS OF THE PARISH. The lungs with inflammation dire Were last attack'd, and raging fire In every vein did glow. LXV. Then 'twas that me they came to call In her last tranquil interval Of partial rest from pain ; Such rest as lulls the wintry deep, When the spent storms at evening sleep, Ere morn to wake again. LXVI. I came ; — her quick and struggling breath Told of the near approach of death, As by her side I stood ; Her painful toil was nearly done, The conflict e'er, the victory won, The sinful soul renew'd. LXV II. A glorious sight it is to see A dying saint's felicity, When death draws gently nigh, And no sharp pangs disturb the peace Preceding the glad soul's release, Or clog the parting sigh. LXVIII. A glorious sight ! — for then Heaven's field Seems to be visibly reveal'd To faith's expiring gaze ; And we almost can hear the hymn Which cherubim and seraphim For its new inmate raise. EUTHANASIA. 335 LXIX. But deaths like this, I deem, are rare, For mortal weakness, pain and care, Cleave to us to the last ; And few of saintliest souls there be From all life's galling- bonds set free Till life itself is past. LXX. O ! shame ! eternal shame to them Who would the penitent condemn In his expiring hour, Because his fainting soul is toss'd By waves of doubt, nor yet hath lost All sense of hellish power. LXXI. O ! shame to such ! they little know The warfare to be waged below, — The mystery, dark and strange, Of inextinguishable sin, Subjecting the whole world within To doubt and fear and change. LXXII. By many a death-bed have I stood Both of the wicked and the good, And this will I maintain,— That while the former smile on death, The latter oft yield up their breath In trouble, fear, and pain. LXXIII. But such was not our sister's doom, — ■ Strong pains she had, but care and gloom 336 LAYS OF THE PARISH. And fear had fled for aye ; One toilsome fight was still to win, And then — farewell to grief and sin ! And welcome endless day ! LXXIV. And yet no rapturous flights had she Of feeling or of phantasy, No visions heavenly-bright; 'Twas patience all, and faith and love, Which with her giant sufferings strove, And triumph'd through God's might. LXXV. Once, as I bent above her bed — " Now, Maiy, you approach," I said, " Death's dark and shadowy vale;" — " It is not dark" — was her reply, And a faint smile pass'd radiantly Across her features pale. LXXVII. No more she spoke ; — her anguish grew Fiercer and fiercer, till we knew The final strife was come ; At length the web of life was rent, And, with a sigh, her spirit went To its eternal home. LXXVII. But was this all ? — to mortal eye No more 'twas granted to descry ; And yet the soul within Had felt a more stupendous strife, — EUTHANASIA. 337 The struggle between death and life, Heaven's grace and human sin. LXXVIII. By prayer intense and fervent thought, Strange transformation had been wrought In all the inner man ; And ever, as the flesh decay 'd, The spirit was more heavenly made, A steadier race she run. LXXIX. Yet think not that her sainted soul Of peace and joy attain'd the goal By easy steps and few ; Or that from height to height she went With swift and regular ascent, As happy angels do. LXXX. Ah no ! — though now, for many a year, She to her Saviour had been dear, And in his flock received, — The Tempter's power was not yet past, But still assail'd her to the last, As ere she first believed. LXXXI. Full surely, all the time, he knew That all his legions were too few, His subtlest efforts vain, The ranks of that bright host to stir, Invisibly encamp'd round her, As on a battle plain. 2 Z 338 LAYS OF THE PARISH. LXXXII. Yet though he could not overcome, Nor lure her from her heavenly home, Dread power he wielded still ; Power to disturb, to haunt, to vex, Confuse and fearfully perplex With dreams obscure of ill. LXXXIII. The sin which still was unsubdued, In many a dark and dreary mood, He show'd to her mind's eye In frightful forms and hues intense, O'erwhelming her bewilder'd sense With fear and agony. LXXXIV. Doubts and dark thoughts did he suggest, Robbing her soul of peace and rest ; — "OamI Christ's indeed, — So weak of faith, so cold in love ? — Could he who lives and reigns above For such a sinner bleed ? — LXXXV. " Hath all this sharp and bitter pain, Borne for long years, been borne in vain ? — Is all this woe for nought ? — Is this vile heart e'en now unchanged ? From Him— from hope— from Heaven estranged?' — Thus darkly fancy wrought. LXXXVI. But soon such terrors pass'd away, EUTHANASIA. 339 And then in bliss untold she lay, Though still in grievous pain ; Heaven's gates once more were open thrown. And Faith and Hope and Love came down To dwell with her again. LXXXVII. Nor lack'd she, ere her anguish grew Too deadly, friends, nor cold nor few, Who daily to her came, Spake with her of Christ's dying love, And soar'd with her, in thought, above This world of sin and shame. LXXXVIII. And blest, to her, those seasons were, When to her chamber did repair Souls touch'd by grace divine ; And the Lord's table there we spread, And bless'd and brake the living bread, And shared the mystic wine. LXXXIX. Thus joy and grief together wrought To purify her springs of thought, Her heart for Heaven to train ; Thus was her spirit cleansed from guilt, And God therein a temple built Where he might ever reign, xc. Nor did her faith and patience (shown Thus sweetly) to herself alone Most rich in blessing prove ; 340 LAYS OF THE PARISH. For few to her sick chamber came In whom she kindled not the flame Of her celestial love. xci. The careless, when her pangs they view'd So meekly borne, with hearts subdued And sadden'd went away ; The weak grew strong, the timid bold, Her patient warfare to behold With suffering and decay, xcn. She was a silent preacher, sent (Silent, but O ! most eloquent !) To teach us how to die ; Showing o'er what fierce depths of pain A tender maiden's soul can gain, Through faith, the victory. XCIII. But little now remains to say ; She died ere dawn upon the day Of last St. Valentine ; And on the following Monday morn, With reverence, to her grave was borne ; — The last sad office mine, xciv. Few mourners at her burial were, In truth, the day was far from fair ; And while along the street The scant and slow procession pass'd, The thickening clouds pour'd down full fast A storm of rain and sleet. EUTHANASIA. 341 XCV. Yet One there was whom all respect, — A man of noblest intellect, Great heart, and station high, Who, that day, all his toils forsook, And on her funeral came to look With sad and reverent eye. xcvi. For service high perform'd to truth, For Christian lessons taug-ht to youth, Deep thanks to him are due ; And I, for one, may truly say How happy I esteem the day When first his worth I knew, xcvn. Yet ne'er, methinks, for him I felt Respect so deep as when we knelt Together by her bier, And I beheld him not too proud, Amidst the meanest of the crowd, To drop a parting- tear. XCVIII. To him, with cordial heart, to-day,* I dedicate this humble lay, Which he will not despise, But treasure as a record true Of one whose faith on earth he knew, Now throned above the skies. * Written in 1834. >42 LAYS OF THE PARISH. THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. I. What decks our sober parsonage to-day With this unusual pomp of festal show ? What mean these tents, bedight with streamers gay? These tables, spread in long continuous row? — This throng of busy peasants to and fro ? Yon maypole wreathed with yet unfaded flowers, Braving the blasts that ail too wintry blow, And ever and anon, with sleety showers, Bemock the cold mid- May of this wild clime of ours ?* ii. Xot without previous care and tasteful toil Hath all this rural pageantry been wrought ; But yesternight the meadows' flowery spoil, By children's hands with childish ardour sought, Was to our pastor's busy parlour brought, And then and there did gentle ladies twine Those flowery wreaths, and, with fantastic thought, Primrose and cowslip and blue bell combine In forms and hues so rich as mock this verse of mine, in. And here, all day, since earliest peep of dawn, Hath rustic labour preparation made * Written in 1839. THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 343 For feats gymnastic on the wanton lawn, With stroke and thrust of hammer, saw, and spade ; Here tilters deft shall dextrously evade The quintain's swift and ignominious blow ; — Here shall the wrestler at his length be laid, Lock'd in the gripe of his victorious foe ; Here youths and maids shall point the light fantastic toe. IV. But wherefore here ? where solemn thought should dwell, And heavenly contemplation oft be found, And silence house, as in a hermit's cell, And pious cares and studies aye abound, Untroubled by the world's intrusive sound ? — Why all this coil of boisterous frolick here ? Startling the tenants of the graves around, And ever bursting on the living ear With uproar meeter sure for some less sober sphere ? v. Tis not our pastor's wont, nor e'er hath been, Since first in Christian fold a flock he fed, To mingle with gay crowds in festal scene ; — Full surely to the world we deem'd him dead, A life so grave and sober hath he led, Shunning whate'er to puritanic eye Might cause offence ; —so much he seem'd to dread , Lest keen schismatics should in him espy Occasion to impeach and mar his ministry. 344 LAYS Or THE PARISH. VI. No feaster he, nor sportsman, nor alert At feats athletic — save that, in his day, At England's game of games he was expert, And loved with jovial cricketers to play, So wasting many a summer holiday ; But now that pastime too he doth forego, Nor e'er in flannel garb his loins array, Nor arm his foot with iron spikes below, Nor wield the ponderous bat with skilful block and blow. VII. A graver interest warms his heart to-day, Grave meaning lurks beneath his mirthful mood, Some graver purpose owns this trim array Of tents and tables piled with daintiest food — These garlands wreath'd by tasteful womanhood— This preparation for athletic sport; — Mock not, ye graceless — marvel not, ye good ;— Here Temperance holds to-day her solemn court, Whereto her liegemen true, in festive pomp, resort. VIII. A Power benignant she, and once on Earth Well known and honour'd; — health's secure ally, Sworn friend of household peace and social mirth, And happiness, and love, and liberty ; Sedate her mien and modest is her eye, From meretricious wiles exempt and pure ; No care hath she, the casual passer by With smiles of harlot blandishment to lure, But wins by quiet worth, and knows her triumph sure. THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 345 IX. Small store of season'd viands loads her board. No sparkling" wine -cup at her feasts is seen ; Yet she the choicest dainties doth afford To healthful tastes, and reigns in state serene. Of true convivial joys the sovereign queen : Hers is the cheerful home, the fire-side glee, The rustic game, the dance upon the green ; — And eke the kettle's song, the toast, the tea, The gleam of household smiles, from guilt and sorrow free. x. Ah me ! that ever nymph so fair and good Men should have banish'd from our luckless isle, Through lust of tempting drink and luscious food, Duped and enslaved by that enchanter vile, Accursed Comus, who doth yet defile Our homes and hearths with riotous excess, Stealing the heart and brain with treacherous guile, And breeding deadlier woe than thought can guess, Through brutish sensual waste and filthy drunken- ness. XI. O shun his proffer'd draught, unthinking swains, In whom not yet is appetite subdued To Reason's temperate rule ; — that cup contains Circean juice with poisonous drugs imbued ; Whereof who freely drinks, albeit endued With natural graces manifold, casts off 346 LAYS OF THE PARISH. His better self, grows sensual, wild and lewd, And doth at life's true pleasures rail and scoff, Herding with human swine, and wallowing in their trough. XII. Yet sweet, at first, the luscious beverage seems, Which, like an adder, stingeth at the last, — The wine that sparkles in rich ruby gleams, The ale by amber's clearness unsurpass'd ; — And pleasures throng around it thick and fast- Gay spirits — generous feelings — social glee, And blithe good humour by no cloud o'ercast, — Frolic and song and laughter loud and free — Yea, all the joys that wait on jocund jollity. XIII. Right pleasant 'twere to quaff that charmed cup, And feel its inspiration rich and fine, Were no sharp bitters with the dregs mix'd up, Were social gladness all that flows from wine ; Then Bacchus were indeed a god divine, And Circe's son a welcome guest on Earth ; But soon, alas ! those giddy joys decline, And furious folly takes the place of mirth, And fever'd brain and blood to lust and rage give birth. xiv. Strange sight it is, I ween, at lordly feast, Or alehouse revel, (as the case may be) To mark the gradual change of man to beast, The quick transition from convivial glee To tipsy fun and senseless ribaldry ; THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 347 Thence to mad riot and unseemly brawl, Or brutish, base insensibility, As, in their strength or weakness, one and all, Beneath the enchanter's spell, in swift succession, fall. xv. Gentle at first his stealthy influence seems ; He opens the shut heart, and frees the tongue Of shy reserve, and lights the eye with gleams Of kindling humour round the table flung, And cheers the drooping soul which seem'd un- strung For boisterous joys, and tunes the timid voice To jovial ditties in full chorus sung, And charms the ear with talk so quaint and choice As makes the dull applaud — the sorrowful rejoice. XVI. Anon a change doth o'er this spirit pass, Discourse more freely, but less clearly, flows ; This grows a pert, and that a solemn ass, And maudlin fervour makes sworn friends of foes, Till from embraces straight they come to blows, (Extremes so nearly meet,) and you may see Black eye, and broken head, and bloody nose, Marring the mirth of this fair company ; — Sure Circe's swine themselves could scarce more swinish be. XVII. And one, with solemn air and swimming eyes, Drawls saws of tipsy morals to deaf ears ; One, at full length, beneath the table lies 348 LAYS OF THE PARISH. In most unsavoury plight, nor sees nor hears The brawls or babble of his drunk compeers, So well the wine hath done its work on him ; There let him lie till sober morn appears, Then wake with throbbing 1 brow and aching limb ;— Woke never mortal wight in more unseemly trim. XVIII. Time was when scenes like these you might be- E'en in the Palace-Halls of Albion's isle ; [hold So closely did the curst Enchanter hold Peasant and prince in bondage base and vile, And all the virtues of all ranks defile ; Nor Learning's cloister'd shades withstood his power, Nor shrank he back abash'd from Beauty's smile, But durst, with steps profane, invade her bower, Reeling from revels gross, prolong'd for many an hour. XIX. Then without shame on drawing-rooms' retreat, Whereto, ere wine grows wanton, dames retire, Would sots intrude, who scarce could keep their feet, — The drunken lord and doubly drunken squire, Their brains bewilder'd, and their blood on fire. Then felt the enamour'd youth, thro' hot excess, His bashful love transform'd to bold desire, And gazed upon his fair one's loveliness With looks from which she shrank as from a fiend's caress. THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 349 XX. Those days are past; — but tho' at length expell'd From courtly halls, or there with chains fast bound, And wand reversed , —the miscreant, yetunquell'd, In lowlier homes and meaner haunts is found, Still too triumphant upon British ground ; Him taverns worship, him the alehouse owns Lord of each loathsome sight and bestial sound ; Him the gin-palace in full state enthrones — That charnel, fair without, but fill'd with dead men's bones. xxi. And in the streets, at midnight, you may hear His votaries from their orgies staggering out, Flush'd high with brandy or ignoble beer, And roaming, like enfranchised fiends, about, With many a wanton song and deafening shout, Startling the sober citizen from sleep, Who haply opes his casement, and thereout At those mad revels doth affrighted peep, Which they, in frantic sport, right mischievously keep. XXII. Then from obnoxious doors are knockers wrong 1 . And pannels with incongruous paint o'erspread, And signs torn down, till watchmen's rattles sprung, Sound to the charge, and soon some senseless head, Split by the official staff's congenial lead, 350 LAYS OF THE PARISH. Discloses to men's eyes its lack of brains ; And one, self- rescued, staggers home to bed, And one, all night, in durance vile remains, Consign'd to watch-house base— fit guerdon for his pains. XXIII. These, Comus, are thy triumphs — but alas ! Not these alone — ah would that these were all ! For thou all fiends in mischief dost surpass, Plague most accurst of this terrestrial ball ! Health, fortune, reputation, conscience fall Beneath thy blasting spell ; — alas for those Whom thou, with fatal witcheries, dost enthrall ! No more shall they in peaceful homes repose, But waste in swift decay, pierced through with many woes. XXIV. Theirs is the trembling hand, the pimpled cheek, The purple nose, the lean and shrunken limb, The bloated trunk, the gait infirm and weak, The palsied head, the eyeball blear'd and dim. Woe to the sot ! yet not alone to him ; Woe, woe to those whom once he held most dear ! — His little ones a prey to famine grim, His wife left weeping in her chamber drear, Yet waiting his return with less of hope than fear. XXV. Ah wretched she ! more wretched for the peace Which once was hers, and which, when life was young, She fondly hoped with life alone should cease, THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 351 When he upon her neck, enamour'd, hung, And vow'd, with winning- and persuasive tongue, His life, himself, his body, soul and sense Hers until death ; — nor were such pleasures flung At random from his lips in base pretence, But breathed in honest truth and frankest confidence. XXVI. Nor lack'd their early years of wedded love The choicest pleasures which that state can yield, Until strong drink seduced his steps to rove From duty's path, and soon his bosom steel'd Against all power which Love and Hymen yield ; For he, of pious parents born and bred, His vows devoutly at the altar seal'd, And long the tenderest husband's life had led ; Seem'd never mortal pair with brighter hopes to wed. XXVII. And blessed was their basket and their store, For industry and honest thrift were theirs ; And still they loved each other more and more, For that joint burden of parental cares Which grew and gather'd round them unawares As sons and daughters, year by year, were born, — Dear subjects of new hopes, and fears, and prayers ; Alas that e'er such home should be forlorn, Or heart so fond as hers by such fierce anguish torn ! XXVIII. Sly was the fiend's approach ; — in friendship's guise, 353 LAYS OF THE PARISH. And hand in hand with " Auld lang syne" he came ; And if the victim's heart, more warm than wise, Too freely open'd, few would harshly blame, — Few, in his place, but would have done the same. Yet there the first and fatal fault crept in, And at its heels came sorrow, guilt, and shame, Remorse in liquor quench'd, and deepening sin, So steep is Hell's descent when we to err begin ! XXIX. First tyrant Custom fill'd the dangerous cup In Friendship's name, and thus the alehouse dire Was, in his thoughts, with holier things mix'd up ; Then, by degrees, insatiable desire Of that fell poison set his throat on fire, Weaning his heart from his pure peaceful home, Till, day by day, would he from work retire To that foul den, nor near his cottage come, Its pleasures now appear'd so tame and wearisome. XXX. His home-spent hours — ah ! wherefore flag they now? They flagg'd not when a life of toil he led, By daily sweat of his industrious brow Earning his wife's, his children's daily bread ; And now by whom shall they be clothed and fed ? What shelter shall they find from winter's cold ? Alas for them ! — far better were they dead ! — Their food withheld — their raiment pawn'd or sold, — THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 353 Their mother sick and weak, for very grief grown old. XXXI. No hope for her ! — with hard and ceaseless toil Early she labours, and but late takes rest ; In vilest drudgery doth her beauty soil, — No murmur utter'd, no complaint express'd, Though wasting anguish is her daily guest ; And still her needful food doth she forego, To calm their hunger whom she loveth best; And still, thro' wintry frost and driving snow, 111 shod and scantly clothed, to daily labour go. XXXII. No hope for her ! — scarce all her toil can win A scanty pittance of the coarsest bread ; And when, sore spent, at evening, she comes in, Cowering she sits, and trembles, pale with dread, If she but hear her husband's coming tread, Lest he that pittance from her children tear, And barter it for drink ; — their marriage-bed Long since was sold ; — of table, stool, and chair, Yea all, save mouldering walls, her wretched hut is bare. XXXIII. Cowering she sits beside her fireless hearth, Her children shivering in their straw with cold, — Till, with a sudden shout of brutal mirth, The crazy door is shatter'd, and behold ! Him whom her youthful arms were wont to fold In tenderest transport, now, in drunken ire, 2 A A 354 LAYS OF THE PARISH. Showering" fierce blows and curses uncontroll'd On her — on her so long" his heart's desire, — For whose dear sake he toil'd, with zeal which nought could tire. XXXIV. No hope for her ! — the subtle fiend in him Hath done its perfect work, and he hath grown A reckless tyrant, sensual, sullen, grim; His heart, once flesh, is now transform'd to stone. Deaf is he to his famish'd children's moan, And if benigner death should set them free From life-long woes, would mock their dying groan With drunken shouts of most unnatural g-lee ; — So lost to human love — to human shame is he. XXXV. No hope for her ! — yes, one, she thinks, is left — ! if perchance in some long wish'd-for hour, When, not of sense and feeling quite bereft By dire intoxication's deadly power, He yet might ope his bosom to a shower Of loving words, kind looks, and gentle smiles, Still mmht she lead her lost one to a tower Of sure defence against temptation's wiles, And quell the enchanter curst who now his soul be- guiles. XXXVI. ! could she tempt him, by persuasion bland, To join this sober festival to-day, And see convivial pleasure hand in hand THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 355 With peace domestic, chasing grief away, With sport, and dance, and jocund roundelay — Or could she ope his sluggish ears to hear What that good man will in his lecture say — His better mind might yet unquench'd appear, And he, from guilt reclaim'd, be more than ever dear. XXXVII. But hark ! — the near church clock with sudden stroke Proclaims the long expected hour of one, And straight the tents are throng'd with hungry folk, And (grace first said) the banquet hath begun : Joints roast and boil'd, to nice perfection done, With multifarious garden-stuff combined — Plumb-puddings which no epicure would shun, With thin potations of the choicest kind — Furnish a feast at which Apicius might have dined. XXXVIII. Nor lack we music to regale the ear, And keener relish to our meat impart, For brethren skill'd in minstrelsy are here, Each well-prepared, with willing hand and heart, In instrumental clang to bear his part ; — Clarion and fife and double drum have we, And hautboy blown with no ignoble art ; Hark ! how attuned to blithe triumphant key, They breathe (what could they less ?) the soul of social glee ! 356 LAYS OF THE PARISH. XXXIX. Brief is the meal, as Earth's best pleasures are ; Few condiments the flagging taste provoke, No Bacchanalian toasts the banquet mar, For our unfetter'd banqueters have broke The tyrant Custom's arbitrary yoke, And eat as hunger, drink as thirst impels ; But hark ! once more with swift, repeated stroke, The solemn music of the vesper bells The hour of public prayer, now fast approaching, tells. XL. And at the signal, in procession long, Our men in office marshal their array, With trump and timbrel and low-murmur'd song, And parti-colour'd streamers bright and gay ; — Brief compass fetch'd— they crowd the queen's highway, — Aloft the Temperance banners are unroll'd, And emblems meet and mottoes quaint display, Emblazon'd with devices manifold, Which well, with quaking hearts, may publicans behold. XLI. And now, defiling through the churchyard gate, The music hush'd at once, in order due Within the church they crowd and congregate ; Well fill'd, ere long, I ween, is every pew — With gazers all, with sneerers not a few : Meanwhile, the organ's deep, harmonious swell THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 357 With notes prelusive gives the choir their cue, And the}' the Psalm intone which sing's so well How sweet for brethren 'tis in unity to dwell. XLII. And soon each heart is wrapt, or seems to be. In solemn worship by our pastor led ; — Well with the occasion by strange chance agree The lessons in the daily service read ; — " Destroy not him for whom Christ's blood was shed By meat and drink ; — all things indeed are pure ; Yet is it good e'en lawful meat to dread, Which makes a brother's walking insecure;" Thus saith St. Paul to-day, and what he saith is sure. XLIII. — The prayer concluded and the priest retired To doff the surplice and to don the gown, — Once more the choir, by tuneful zeal inspired, With choral hymn the solemn service crown ; While rustic voices the full organ drown, Swelling from aisle and gallery, loud and clear. That hymn let us, who hearken, here set down, Albeit, uncouth and rugged it appear, And all unfit to please a critic's dainty ear. HYMN. 1. God of this fair creation ! In whom we live and move ; 358 LAYS OF THE PARISH. With hymns of adoration We own that Thou art love ; Before thine altar kneeling Thy gracious name we bless For life, for health, for feeling, For all Earth's plenteousness. 2. For all that soothes our sorrows, And gives our sickness ease, — For corn that fills our furrows, For fruit that bends our trees, — For wine, its balm diffusing Through souls by pain opprest, Which use as not abusing, — I O Lord, thy name be blest ! 3. May food which nature needeth To us be daily given, While still the spirit feedeth On bread sent down from heaven ! From streams by drought unwasted May we those draughts obtain, Which he who once hath tasted Shall never thirst again ! XLIV. And now, full arm'd for controversial fight, Yet more by mild persuasion bent to win, Our pastor climbs the pulpit's well-known height, And (prayer first duly utter'd,) doth begin THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 359 With scripture phrase, well cull'd, to usher in His theme, repulsive to the public maw; Nor heeds the sneerer's ill-dissembled grin, Nor much of fair objectors stands in awe, So he may fence his cause with Heaven's expounded law. XLV. Calmly he shows how Christian men should look Each to his neighbour's welfare as his own ; How Paul himself permitted meat forsook, Lest brethren's souls thereby might be o'er- thrown ; Yet all harsh judgment strictly does disown Of those who use what God for use hath given ; Deeming, in sooth, small sense or wisdom shown By those grim zealots of fanatic leaven, Who fain, to all who taste would bar the urates of o Heaven. XLVI. — The sermon ended — from the Church once more In proud procession moves the long array ; Some haply not displeased that (service o'er) They as they list may now keep holiday ; Again drums thunder, and loud trumpets bray, And now the tented lawn is throng'd apace With squire and peasant, lord and lady gay, Plebeian beauty and patrician grace ; Was ne'er such motley crowd beheld in such a place. 360 LAYS OF THE PARISH. XL VII. Within the tents again the festive board, But now with daintier fare, hath been supplied ; Soul-cheering* Tea, by fairest fingers pour'd, And piles of bread and butter, side by side With cakes which friends with liberal zeal pro- vide ; Around, domestic, happy groups appear, — Husband and wife, each now the other's pride, With children to both parents grown more dear ; All former wrongs effaced, all grief forgotten here. XLVIII. Elsewhere athletic youths, with strength adroit, In sports gymnastic sturdily contend ; Some strike the quintain, and some hurl the quoit, Some, with firm grasp, the slippery rope ascend 'Midst favouring shouts and laughter without end; And round the maypole, with bright garlands hung, Age, rank and sex, in circling dances blend — Scholar and clown — the aged and the young ; Meanwhile, in lusty notes, is this blithe chorus SONG. 1. Come brothers, be hearty ! our Teetotal party Should surely the mirth of the alehouse outvie,. THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 361 Where sots o'er their liquor grow duller and sicker. And fools mimick fun with a drop in their eye. Better pleasures are ours — blue skies and green bowers, And merry tea-tables set out on the grass; With sunshine above us, and faces that love us. The wife with her husband — the lad with his lass. 2 Let blockheads too stupid for Hymen or Cupid To charm with a sweetheart or bless with a spouse. Their addle-brains muddle with publican's puddle. And drink themselves dumb in a sulky carouse. We've daughters and spouses, the joy of our houses. To share all our pleasures as blithely as we ; In bumpers o'er-brimming:, come — health to the women ! And thanks for their company ! — drink it in Tea ! 3. 'Tis they who best cheer us, when sorrow comes near us, And would not their absence our revels condemn I Let's banquet like brothers, with sisters, wives. mothers, — Shame, shame on the churl who would feast without them! The brawls and brute quarrels which flow from beer barrels We leave to the slave of the bottle and bowl ; 362 LAYS OF THE PARISH. No strife shall divide us, while they sit beside us, To smile on our frolics and yet to control. 4. Let sots in deep swilling who spend their last shil- ling-, Lose food for the belly and clothes for the back ; With coats all in tatters and pudding-less platters, And health gone to ruin and home gone to rack. So end their carouses ; — vjeve peace in our houses, Glad smiles to receive us, and family glee ; So a fig- for ale-bottles ! — let tee-total throttles Shout Glory for ever to Temperance Tea ! XLIX. But daylight waneth, and our sports must end, For moderation best befits the wise ; Nor would our brethren by excess offend Foes who malign or friends who patronize ; Anon, at signal sounded, all arise ; Tent, maypole, quintain are deserted straight, And soon upon the ear the music dies, Even the last straggler follows through the gate, And all is silence now, where all was mirth so late. L. Is all then o'er ? — and shall our revel fade E'en like a dream, and leave no trace behind ? Nay, yet one final effort must be made To shake the stubborn, fix the wavering mind, And weak resolve by strengthening pledge to bind. THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 363 Lo ! where to yonder schoolroom crowds repair Each on the alert to gain the foremost place, For one well-known to-night will lecture there; And now the room is full ; — our pastor takes the chair. LI. At first some meaner orators, with speech Simple and rude, the attentive crowd address ; Themselves reclaim'd, would fain their brethren teach How small indulgence leads to sure excess ; And many a homely tale, as you may guess, They tell, and many a pungent jest essay, Mocking each phase of filthy drunkenness, The alehouse gabble and the tipsy fray, The pains and sickness dire which topers feel next day. LII. " Somewhat too much of this — but now 'tispast;" A murmur of impatience, quickly heard, Dies into silence ; — lo ! he comes at last, The speaker to all speakers far preferr'd : — He rises, but, or ere he speaks a word, The echoing walls with loud applause are rent ; One cheer has sunk, — a second — then a third Rise, roar, and fall— till all their breath have spent, And hang upon his words with eager looks intent. LIII. A noticeable man is he, with brow High and projecting, and of broad expanse, 364 LAYS OF THE PARISH. Plough'd, by long thought, in deepening furrows now, As past life's middle stage his years advance ; From his benign and manly countenance Intelligence and mild good-humour beam ; Around the room he casts one kindling glance, And straight, when hush'd and still the hearers seem, Lets loose his deep-toned voice in full, continuous stream. LIV. At first, in gentlest phrase, with utterance low, And half, it seems, in earnest, half in jest, He courts attention both from friend and foe, And lays unwilling prejudice to rest, Which else with rude disturbance might molest His after speech ; and now some tale he tells, Now on some caustic apologue, express'd With dry, grave humour, for a moment dwells, Till, roused by its own rush, the soul within him swells. LV. Anon, in fearful colours, he portrays The drunkard's headlong course of sin and shame, — His short and bitter term of evil days, — His frantic joys unworthy of the name, — His children beggar'd, or of ruin'd fame — To guilty deeds by grinding hunger driven, — Yet he in heart and conduct still the same, — His every hope long lost in Earth and Heaven, — THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 365 For how should slave so curst repent and be for- given ? LVI. In vigorous contrast he exhibits next The abstainer's blameless life and blissful lot ; His days of peaceful industry, unvex'd By guilt or fear, — his clean, well-furnish'd cot, — The plenteous meal, well dress'd and smoking hot, — The jocund circle round his evening fire, — His marriage-vow unstain'd by speck or blot, But bless'd by mutual love and chaste desire, And sweet domestic joys too pure to fade or tire. LVI I. Nor ends the contrast with expiring Time ; — Eternity's dark veil is rent in twain, And lo ! the direful fruit of sensual crime ! The deep damnation — the immortal pain In which the drunkard must for aye remain ! The fire unquench'd ! — the worm which never dies ! And Heaven discern'd far off distinct and plain, Throng'd with the spirits of the just, who rise From death's sepulchral sleep to reign above the skies ! LVIII. " Now look on these twin pictures, ye who doubt. And choose," quoth he, " the better while ye may ; Beware lest appetite drive reason out, Or rash indulgence Heaven's whole bliss betray ; 366 LAYS OF THE PARISH. Now, in the sunshine of your mortal day, By strong resolve the insidious Tempter shun, Cast from your lips the dangerous cup away, And half life's battle is already won, And half its direst troubles ended ere begun. LIX. " Strong is the magic of our Temperance pledge, The pledge of brethren against evil bound, Fencing, with an impenetrable hedge, Each weak and wavering brother round and round ; Sole aid against the spells of Bacchus found, — Religion's handmaid, Virtue's friend secure, — Extirpator of vice from British ground, — Firm aid of all things lovely, good, and pure, — Heaven's instrument it seems, all social ills to cure. LX. " Once bound and circled in its mystic chain, The timid become bold, the feeble strong, The self-indulgent can, thenceforth, refrain From sinful pleasure, loved and cherish 'd long : Man's tyranny and woman's bitter wrong Its potent influence quickly doth allay ; And, where 'tis kept, domestic pleasures throng, And social joyance makes all faces gay; — Witness the mirthful crowds assembled here to- day !" LXI. Our festival is o'er ; — the crowds disperse, And silence dwells in the deserted room ; THE SONG OF THE KETTLE. 367 A few remain, who from the avenging curse, And all the dreadful depths of guilt and gloom, To which intemperance doth her victims doom, Would, in that vaunted pledge, safe shelter find. For such let Earth's least fading garlands bloom, — Love, joy , and peace, from sensual dross refined ; — And theirs be vigorous health of body and of mind ! LXII. Nor need our pastor grieve with vain regret, Tho' he no more the inspiring glass should drain, His throat no more with port or sherry wet, — No more his lips, at costlier tables, stain With ruddy claret or the pink champagne : In sooth, such draughts were never sweet to him ; Better he loves the juice of British grain — The porter, foaming o'er the tankard's brim — The ale, whose dazzling gleam makes e'en the topaz dim. LX1II. Nor thankless he, of old, for cyder press'd From the rich growth of Worcester's fruitful shire ; Nor scorn'd on Sunday evenings, when at rest From pulpit toils (for pulpit toils will tire) With wine and e^, commingled o'er the fire, His drooping strength and spirits to restore, — Well pleased to think the body might require Such aid ; — these thoughts are, for the present, o'er, 368 LAYS OF THE PARISH. And he, on thinnest drinks, grows lustier than before. LXIV. And if, ere long-, by sore experience taught, That which he now upholds he must oppose, 'Twill yet to him be no unpleasant thought, That vice and he were here, as ever, foes. But, for the present, thus our song we close, — For hark ! the urn is hissing, and the tea In fragrant streams for our regalement flows, — While Fanny's voice, in clear, melodious key, Warbles prelusive strains of choicest minstrelsy. FINIS. C. Whittingham, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane.